Palestinian leaders in Gaza agreed a cease-fire with Israel on Monday to end a deadly two-day escalation in violence that threatened to widen into war, officials with knowledge of the deal said.
An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal, but there appeared to have been no rocket fire or Israeli strikes after it was due to take effect, an AFP correspondent in Gaza said.
Egypt brokered the agreement to cease hostilities from 4:30 a.m. (0130 GMT), an official from the strip’s Islamist rulers Hamas and another from its allied group Islamic Jihad said on condition of anonymity.
The escalation began Saturday with massive rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes, and continued throughout Sunday.
At least 27 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed.Four civilians in Israel were killed, at least three of them Israeli citizens.
The flare-up came as Hamas sought further steps from Israel toward easing its blockade under a previous cease-fire brokered by Egypt and the United Nations.
Israel faced pressure to seek to restore calm and put an end to the rocket fire hitting communities in the country’s south.
Palestinian officials in Gaza accused Israel of not taking steps to ease its blockade as promised under previous cease-fire deals.The Islamic Jihad official said the new truce agreement was again based on Israel easing its blockade. Among the steps, he said, were the relaxing of limits on fishing and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.
Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza have fought three wars since 2008 and the escalation brought them to the brink of another.Sunday was particularly bloody, with 19 Palestinians and four civilians in Israel killed.
The Palestinian dead included a commander for Hamas’s armed wing who Israel said it targeted due to his role in transferring money from Iran to militant groups in the Gaza Strip.It was a rare admission of targeted killing by Israel’s army.— AFP