UNITED NATIONS - The UN Security Council has welcomed the ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas and called on relevant parties "to act seriously" and "in good faith" in order to bring a "sustainable and durable" peace in the region.

The 15-member council said in a statement it "deplored the loss of civilian lives resulting from this situation and reiterated the need to take appropriate steps to ensure the safety and well-being of civilians and their protection in accordance with international humanitarian law."

"The members of the Security Council welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached in relation to the Gaza Strip in order to bring about a sustainable and durable cessation of hostilities that have been affecting the Gaza Strip and Israel," said the statement read to the press by Hardeep Singh Puri, the Indian UN ambassador who holds the rotating council presidency for November.  The statement came at the end of closed-door consultations, shortly after Egyptian Foreign Minister Mohamed Kamel Amr announced a ceasefire accord in Cairo.

"The members of the Council called on the parties to uphold the agreement and to act seriously to implement its provisions in good faith," the statement said. "They expressed their continued support for the ongoing international efforts to consolidate this agreement."

"The members of the Council strongly commend the efforts of Egyptian President (Mohamed) Morsi and others to achieve the ceasefire," the statement added. "The members of the Council also expressed strong appreciation for the efforts of United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon in this regard." "The members of the Council affirmed the need for the people of Israel and the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip to live without fear," the statement added.

"They called on the international community to contribute to improving the living conditions of the people in the Gaza Strip, notably through providing additional emergency aid through appropriate established channels to the Palestinian people in the Gaza Strip and to work in this regard with Israel, the Palestinian Authority, and Egypt for the expeditious and unimpeded delivery of such humanitarian assistance, including food, fuel and medical treatment."

The eight-day clashes between Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas have killed more than 160 Palestinians and five Israelis.

"The members of the Council stressed the urgency of the restoration of calm in full and reiterated the importance of achieving a comprehensive peace based on the vision of a region where two democratic States, Israel and Palestine, live side by side in peace with secure and recognized borders," the statement noted.

In a video link from Tel Aviv, Ban told the 15-nation Security Council earlier on Wednesday that "I warmly welcome today's ceasefire announcement. I commend the parties for stepping back from the brink and I commend President Morsi of Egypt for his exceptional leadership."

The UN chief is on a three-day visit to the region starting on Monday. He has met with regional leaders, including Israeli and Palestinian leaders, to push for an early cessation of the hostilities between Israel and Hamas.

Also on Wednesday, Riyad Mansour, the permanent observer of Palestine to the United Nations, thanked the Egyptian president and all other related parties for the ceasefire agreement.

"We hope under this ceasefire Israel will not attack our people who are not in need of more options of war and destruction but of healing their wounds and rebuilding the Gaza strip," Mansour said.