Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip agreed on a ceasefire on Saturday after five days of rocket and missile fire that killed 33 people in the Palestinian enclave and two in the Jewish state.
Egypt, the traditional mediator between the two belligerents, received the green signal from both sides for peace, which began at 7:00 pm GMT, Egyptian and Palestinian sources told AFP.
An Israeli government official questioned by AFP declined to comment on the matter.
About 15 minutes after the ceasefire went into effect, some rockets were fired and new Israeli shelling followed, followed by an apparent retreat.
According to the Israeli military, two rockets were fired into Gaza after 11:00 p.m., causing no casualties. Enclave residents returned to deserted streets for several days.
The fighting began on Tuesday with Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad, a group considered a “terrorist organization” by Israel, the European Union and the United States.
This is the biggest outbreak of violence between the two sides since August 2022.
Israel and Islamic Jihad thanked Egypt for its mediating role. “The two sides agreed to a ceasefire that started at 10 p.m.,” Mohammed al-Hindi, the head of Islamic Jihad’s political wing, told AFP.
– “we did?” ,
Israel’s response to the Egyptian initiative implies that “the peace response will be calm, and that if Israel is attacked or threatened, it will continue to do whatever it takes to defend itself,” Tsachi said. An official Israeli statement from Hanegbi and Prime Minister’s National Security Adviser Benjamin Netanyahu confirmed no agreement.
In Gaza, ruled by the Islamist Hamas movement since 2007, the interior ministry accused Israel of focusing its attacks “on civilian targets and residential buildings”.
AFP reporters reported that more than 2,000 protesters protested against the war overnight in the Israeli city of Tel Aviv.
According to the Israeli military, a Palestinian rocket landed on an Israeli agricultural field in Shokedah, less than 10 kilometers from the Gaza Strip, injuring a Palestinian worker who died in hospital.
The death brings to 34 the number of Palestinians killed in the fighting since Tuesday, 33 of them in the Gaza Strip. On the Israeli side, an eighty-year-old man died on Thursday in Rehovot in central Israel.
The Palestinians killed included six Islamic Jihad commanders, as well as fighters from that movement and another armed group, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).
AFP reporters on Saturday confirmed damage from Israeli bombardment in residential areas such as Beit Lahiya in the north of the Strip and Deir al-Bala in the center.
“I don’t see any peace,” said Muhammad Muhana, 58, from the rubble of his home in Gaza. “All the Palestinian people are suffering. What have we done?”
– 1,230 rockets –
The United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) on Friday confirmed the deaths of at least 13 civilians, seven of whom were minors. The Israeli army claims that four civilians, three of whom were minors, were killed by Palestinian rockets that fell inside the strip.
The military claimed to have hit 371 “terrorist targets” and said that 1,230 rockets were fired at Israel, of which more than 370 were intercepted by air defense systems.
The Gaza Strip is a poor and sparsely populated Palestinian territory home to 2.3 million people. Since 2007, when the Islamist Hamas movement took full control of the enclave, it has been under a strict Israeli blockade.
The region has been the scene of several wars with Israel since 2008.
In August 2022, three days of clashes between Israel and Islamic Jihad killed 49 Palestinians, including at least 19 children, according to the United Nations. On that occasion, more than a thousand rockets were fired from Gaza towards Israel, in which there were injuries.
In the northern occupied West Bank, two Palestinian fighters from the armed wing of Fatah, the movement of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, were killed in an Israeli army operation on the Balata refugee camp in Nablus on Saturday.
Another Palestinian was killed in the afternoon after attempting to attack police with a knife, according to the army.