Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire
Jerusalem – A senior Hamas leader and Israel’s Security Cabinet have confirmed that a mutual ceasefire deal has been agreed.
The senior Hamas leader told CNN that the ceasefire will commence at 2 a.m. local time on Friday, though an official announcement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Officer said the ceasefire would go into effect at an hour to be agreed upon later.
The decision comes after more than a week of conflict left hundreds of people dead, the vast majority of them Palestinians.
Israel Security Cabinet had agreed to a truce put forward by Egypt for a “mutual unconditional ceasefire” over Gaza, according to a statement by the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office.
“The Security Cabinet convened this evening. And accepted unanimously the recommendation of all security elements – the Chief of Staff, the head of the Shin Bet, the Head of the Mossad, and the head of the National Security Council – to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual unconditional ceasefire that will go into effect at an hour to be agreed upon later,” the statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
The official statement makes clear that the Israel Defense Forces will be instructed to restart its campaign against militant groups in Gaza if militant groups are deemed to be failing to keep their side of the agreement.
“The political leadership emphasises that the reality on the ground will determine any decision to resume the military campaign,” the statement said.
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) have carried out a devastating aerial bombardment of Gaza over the past 11 days, targeting Hamas’ vast tunnel network and other infrastructure. Israeli strikes have killed at least 230 people in Gaza, including 65 children, according to the Hamas-run health ministry there. Some 72 000 Gazans have been displaced, UNICEF said on Wednesday.
Palestinian militants have fired more than 4 000 rockets into Israel, according to the IDF. The longest lull in rocket fire from Gaza – of more than eight hours – took place overnight into Thursday, while Israeli military action continued.
Twelve people have been killed in Israel – ten Israeli citizens and two foreign workers – as a result of Palestinian militant fire, including two children, according to the IDF and Israel’s emergency service.
The truce comes after US President Joe Biden dialed up his administration’s messaging on Israel Wednesday, in his fourth call with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Biden faced pressure to do more to intervene in the conflict.
Netanyahu had said that Israel’s military operation would continue until its “objective is achieved.”
Hostilities between Israel and Hamas followed a period of several weeks of tension in Jerusalem, where a group of Palestinian families faced eviction from their homes in East Jerusalem in favor of Jewish nationalists.
In addition, during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, which ended last week, there were a series of incidents which Palestinians saw as highly provocative, including the closing of a popular meeting place near the Old City, and the entrance of Israeli police into the Al Aqsa mosque on a number of occasions.
There were regular clashes in and around the mosque compound during which police fired stun grenades and rubber coated bullets while Palestinians threw stones.
Hundreds of Palestinians and some Israeli police officers were injured in the unrest. (CNN)