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Home World News Washington Post World News Israel and Gaza militants agree to ceasefire after deadly weekend of at...

Israel and Gaza militants agree to ceasefire after deadly weekend of at least 43 dead



TEL AVIV – Israel and militants in the Gaza Strip have agreed a ceasefire after more than two days of airstrikes and rocket attacks that killed 43 people and injured more than 300 in Gaza and forced thousands of Israelis to take shelter in bunkers.

The Islamic Jihad militant group said in a statement it had agreed to cessation of hostilities from 11:30 p.m. local time on Sunday. The breakthrough came as conditions in Gaza became increasingly dire, with dwindling electricity supplies and hospitals warning that vital services are on the brink of collapse.

Israel said in a statement that it agreed to the ceasefire but that it “maintained the right to respond vigorously” to any violation of the agreement.

Under the agreement, Israel would stop airstrikes it has been carrying out in Gaza since Friday, which killed two high-ranking Islamic Jihad leaders. Islamic Jihad had to stop rocket attacks; it had fired more than 600 projectiles at Israel, including Tel Aviv or Jerusalem, the vast majority of which were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense systems.

The ceasefire ended more than two days of intense cross-border violence that began Friday, when Israel killed Islamic Jihad’s Tayseer Jabari, the group’s head of operations in the northern Gaza Strip. On Saturday, Israel killed Khaled Mansour, the head of Islamic Jihad’s operations in southern Gaza, in an airstrike that destroyed a house in Rafah near the border with Egypt.

Israeli and Palestinian diplomats had said on Sunday afternoon that ceasefire talks are progressing through Egyptian and Qatari back channels.

The violence continued while the negotiators worked. Images on social media showed some of the most harrowing scenes of an escalation that killed 11 children, according to the Palestinian health ministry. The videos include a person being hit by an explosion while riding a horse and a man driving away from the scene of the attack with the bloody body of a toddler.

Missile bulkheads set off air raid sirens around southern and central Israel late Sunday, also near Ben Gurion Airport, where officials briefly paused landings after anti-aircraft missiles detonated at least one projectile near approach routes.

The Israeli military said it had hit more than 140 Islamic Jihad targets and had “neutralized” key resources and assets of the group, including tunnels used by militants to attacks, weapons storage facilities and missile launch sites.

No deaths have been reported in Israel, where the Iron Dome missile defense system, according to the Israeli military, has intercepted about 97 percent of the approximately 470 rockets fired from Gaza since Friday. It said about 20 percent made a mistake and landed in Gaza.

Israeli strikes in Gaza kill senior militant leader, at least 9 others

At least four children were killed in an explosion in the Jabaliya refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip on Saturday night. The Israeli military, which shared satellite images of rocket fire from the enclave, said the fatalities were the result of a failed Islamic Jihad rocket launch and that it was not conducting an airstrike at the time of the blast. It said it was still investigating the circumstances of an explosion in Jabaliya on Sunday morning.

A spokesman for Gaza’s interior ministry, Eyad al-Bozom, said Israel “bears full responsibility for this crime and all the crimes it commits during its brutal aggression against our people in the Gaza Strip.”

Muhammad Abu Qaida, from Beit Lahiya in northern Gaza, said his cousin, Naama Abu Qaida, 56, was one of those killed in the Israeli operation. He said she and her family were in a parked car outside their house on their way to her daughter’s wedding. Abu Qaida said two of his relatives were taken to hospital in critical condition.

“We did not expect anything to happen in the area, and nothing was fired from the area,” Abu Qaida said. “It is hundreds of meters away from the Erez Crossing and exposed to Israel.”

A UN delegation from the United Arab Emirates, which represents Arab countries in the international body and has expanded ties with Israel in recent years, has formally tabled a motion to convene the Security Council on behalf of the Palestinians.

The Israeli operation, codenamed Breaking Dawn, comes just over a year after Israel’s May 2021 war in Gaza with Hamas, the Islamist group that controls the enclave.

The rockets aimed at Jerusalem come as observant Jews mark the holiday of Tisha B’av, during in which more than 2,000 Jews climbed a controversial holy site known by Jews as the Temple Mount and by Muslims as the Noble Shrine.

The elevated esplanade is officially administered by the Jordanian authorities, banning non-Muslim prayer at the site, although the policy has been increasingly violated in recent years by an increase in politically active Jewish believers. Clashes between Israeli security forces and Palestinian protesters in and around the flashpoint sparked the 11-day war last year, which killed more than 200 people in Gaza and 12 people in Israel.

Itamar Ben Gvir, the leader of a far-right Israeli movement and an advocate for allowing prayer for visitors of all faiths on the Temple Mount, visited the site on Sunday morning, flanked by police, shouting: “The nation of Israel is alive! Palestinians around him objected, “God is great!”

“We will never surrender, not to the missiles, not to the threats from the terrorists and not to those of us who attack me,” Ben Gvir said on Twitter, including a photo of his son on the Temple Mount.

The final battle round started last week when Israel arrested the leader of Islamic Jihad in the West Bank, Bassem al-Saadi, as part of ongoing raids following attacks by Palestinian citizens of Israel and other Palestinians in the spring.

A senior Israeli official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive security situation, said on Sunday that Israeli security forces arrested 20 members of Islamic Jihad during nighttime raids on the West Bank, in addition to 19 the previous night.

During the two days of fighting, Hamas has not claimed responsibility for the rocket attacks on Israel. Israel blames the group for all such attacks emanating from the Gaza Strip, and Israeli analysts say any Hamas involvement in this round of combat would increase the scale of the Israeli operation.

Hamas political leader Ismail Haniyeh said “intensive all-party efforts” were underway.

A Middle East official said “talks are underway with Egypt to reach a ceasefire”, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the fragility of the mediation.

A senior Israeli official, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitivity of the situation, said Israel was willing to open humanitarian corridors, provide fuel for generators and provide hospital supplies once the missiles stop.

“Silence is answered with silence,” he said. “Once Islamic Jihad stops firing and Hamas gets things under control, it could happen very quickly.”

Balousha reported from Gaza City; Miriam Berger in Jerusalem contributed to this report.

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