After five days of cross-border exchanges that resulted in the deaths of at least 33 Palestinians in Gaza and two Israelis, a cease-fire has taken effect in and around the Gaza Strip.
Saturday at 10pm local time (20:00 BST), according to Egyptian and Palestinian sources, the ceasefire was to go into effect. In the final thirty minutes, however, dozens of rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel, prompting renewed airstrikes, according to AFP correspondents in the territory.
Israeli air defenses intercepted the majority of the missile fire.
According to an Egyptian security official, Egypt, a longtime mediator in Gaza, has secured the assent of both Israel and the Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad to its latest ceasefire proposal.
“Israel’s National Security adviser Tsahi Hanegbi… thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and expressed the State of Israel’s appreciation for Egypt’s vigorous efforts to bring about a ceasefire,” according to a statement from the office of the Israeli prime minister.
According to him, Israel’s response to the Egyptian initiative is that “quiet will be met with quiet, and if attacked or threatened, Israel will continue to do everything necessary to defend itself.”
A Palestinian source verified the agreement of Islamic Jihad.
“We want to thank Egypt for its efforts,” Islamic Jihad political department official Mohammad al-Hindi told AFP. He has been in Cairo since Tuesday, when the violence began.
After a new barrage of rocket fire into Israel to commemorate the funeral of its military commander Iyad al-Hassani, who was killed on Friday, Israel retaliated on Saturday with airstrikes targeting the Palestinian militant organization Islamic Jihad.
Airstrikes and warning sirens for incoming rocket fire have been daily occurrences in Gaza and Israeli communities near the border for several days.
As combat raged, residents of the densely populated Gaza Strip hid indoors, leaving only a few shops and pharmacies open.