In an effort to reach a broad ceasefire accord in Gaza, Israeli and Hamas forces have agreed to a 4-day cease-fire that is scheduled to take effect on Friday. The truce is set to last for four days beginning Friday and ending on Tuesday evening. During this time, there will be mutual restraint when it comes to hostilities. Measures have been put in place that could lead to a more comprehensive agreement, such as a prisoner exchange, which could be implemented at the end of the 4 day period. The cease-fire was apparently arranged by Hamas to alleviate some of the humanitarian suffering in the Gaza Strip, including high levels of fighting that has caused widespread destruction and created a humanitarian disaster. The agreement comes at an opportune moment, as the current round of violence and airstrikes had been ongoing for nearly a week. The violence, which began on Monday of last week, began as a response to a barrage of rockets fired by Hamas from Gaza into Israel in response to Israel’s interception of a masked Hamas fighter at the Gaza-Israel border earlier that day. Since then, the Israeli military has conducted hundreds of airstrikes, including strikes on Hamas-run infrastructure in the Gaza Strip. On the Palestinian side, dozens of rockets have been fired into southern and central Israel, causing extensive property damage and injuries. The current cease-fire is believed to be the first step towards a more comprehensive agreement between the two sides, one which could involve the negotiation of a prisoner exchange. In addition to this, further unofficial agreements on a range of issues, such as the lifting of the blockade on Gaza and the re-opening of the border crossings, could potentially be discussed in the coming days. However, while the current truce is providing some respite to the region, it should be noted that any agreements reached between the two sides – particularly those related to a prisoner exchange – should be seen as a first step in a much broader process. The region is still in a fragile state and tensions could easily flare up again, potentially undermining any progress made. Therefore, it is essential that both sides show restraint and responsibility during this time, and take steps to ensure that the cease-fire is more than just a temporary reprieve.