Tonight at 8 and 10 p.m. ET, Anderson Cooper reports from Israel on the fatal conflict in the Middle East, and the efforts to end the violence.
At 2 p.m. ET today a cease-fire between Hamas and Israel was put into effect. The agreement was announced in Cairo by U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr hours after a bomb exploded on a Tel Aviv bus, injuring 24 people, police say.
Both sides traded rocket fire during the day, resulting in a total of 142 deaths in Gaza since the conflict began eight days ago, according to Hamas. In Israel, five people have been killed. In Gaza and Israel, houses were destroyed and panic and trauma was widespread. An estimated 1,456 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel, and Israel fired at more than 1,450 targets in Gaza.
Reporter's Note: President Obama is no doubt relieved to hear news of a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas after some violent days. He may also be relieved to find my daily letter to the White House awaiting him.
Dear Mr. President,
It certainly seems good news that the folks over on the edge of the Mediterranean are ready to put down their guns for a bit. Sure, a cease-fire is not a lasting solution, but when people are already shooting at each other, anything that can make them holster their pistols is a good thing.
Of course, the fact that U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was part of the process could also bode well for America. Ever since your early overtures to the Muslim world about better relations and a new age of cooperation, there have not been many positive headlines for the U.S. over there. The Arab Spring seemed to happen largely on its own. Yes, we were cheerleaders of a sort, but not much more. And while some big bad leaders such as Ghadafi were toppled, we didn’t seem to be exactly the point of the spear in those operations…but rather more like the trailing feathers on an arrow: Offering some guidance and support, but not exactly the business end of things.
And yet here comes a small triumph. Nice to see.
Starting fights is easy and often wrapped in a misplaced glory. In ancient days, epic poems were written about the exploits of warriors. Songs were composed to chronicle their daring, cunning, strength, and relentless will. Even now, we make movie about great fighters; people who will wade into combat with a jutted jaw and a “never say die” attitude.
We rarely laud peacemakers that way, and yet ending a fight is much tougher than starting one. Ending a fight requires poise, diplomacy, intelligence, understanding, patience, and for my money much more courage. Peacemakers may have books written about their accomplishments and statues built to their names, but not nearly as often as do generals.
All of that is why I think your team can take a real bow. In an area where we have not necessarily made the progress you clearly once hoped for, this was a step in a positive direction, and it was accomplished in the name of peace.
Israeli Ambassador to the U.S., Michael Oren, tells Anderson that the Israel-Gaza peace negotiations need to be "face to face" between Israelis & Palestinians. He adds, "Hamas is not a part of the negotiations."
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