After more than a week of deadly violence, Israel and Hamas agreed to a cease fire Wednesday that put an end to the fighting and allowed the Obama administration to claim a diplomatic victory. YNN's Bobby Cuza filed the following report.
It was on Tuesday that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was dispatched to the Middle East, meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and seeking to help defuse the crisis. A day later, she announced a cease fire, a deal brokered with the critical help of Egypt.
"This is a critical moment for the region," Clinton said. "Egypt's new government is assuming the responsibility and leadership that has long made this country a cornerstone of regional stability and peace."
The truce came just as tensions appeared to be escalating. A bus bombing in Tel Aviv, which left about two dozen injured, was cheered by leaders of Hamas, while Israeli airstrikes in Gaza continued. But by Wednesday night, the fighting had stopped, and Palestinians took to the streets to celebrate.
Israeli officials thanked the United States for its role.
"I would like especially to thank President Barack Obama for his unreserved support for Israel's action in the operation and of Israel's right to defend itself," Netanyahu said.
President Obama commended Netanyahu by phone Wednesday, according to a White House statement, which also noted Obama’s commitment to help fund Israel’s missile-defense system.
In New York, local leaders applauded the cease fire.
"That's good news for everybody, but, you know, people, if they're going to live together, they can't fire rockets at each other," said Mayor Michael Bloomberg. "Everybody's got a right to live in peace, and every country's got a right to defend itself."
The eight-day conflict resulted in nearly 150 deaths, most of them Palestinians. Next will come talks on a more lasting peace, including the possible easing of border restrictions by Israel on Gaza.