The Palestinians accepted a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip on Sunday night, after a severe bout of two-day violence that woke up the specter of war in the enclave. Three officials, an Egyptian and two Palestinians, announced the news.
Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli retaliatory strikes ceased before the break of day on Monday.
No confirmation has been obtained from the Israeli side, which generally refrains from corroborating such truces. But as the beginning of the holy month of Ramadan approached, Palestinian rocket fire and Israeli retaliatory strikes actually stopped before the break of day, at the cease-fire time indicated by those responsible.
After two days of tension, which killed four people on the Israeli side and 23 Palestinians, the Egyptian neighbor, a traditional intermediary between Palestinians and Israel in Gaza, forged a cessation of hostilities agreement that came into force at 4:30 am (3:30 am in Paris).
The ceasefire was announced on condition of anonymity by a leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in power in Gaza and by an official of Islamic Jihad, the second largest force in the territory and another arch-enemy of Israel. An Egyptian official confirmed on condition of anonymity the conclusion of an agreement.
- Better electricity supply
The agreement reached in the night provides for measures on Gazan fishing areas in the Mediterranean and an improvement in the supply of electricity and fuel in the enclave, said the head of Islamic Jihad.
The Gaza Strip is home to two million people hard hit by wars, poverty and the blockade imposed by Israel for more than a decade to contain Hamas.
This territory wedged between Israel, Egypt and the Mediterranean, as well as the neighboring Israeli cities were the scene for two days of the most serious outbreak of violence since the war of 2014, fearing a fourth conflict between the parties since 2008.
Hundreds of rockets fired by Hamas and Islamic Jihad fell on Israel, which fought back with hundreds of strikes against targets as well as fighters from both groups.
Some 690 rockets have been fired since Saturday from Gaza, of which more than 500 have reached Israeli territory, and at least 35 have fallen into urban areas, according to a count of the Israeli army.
Israeli artillery and aircraft have in turn hit more than 350 Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets across the Gaza Strip, targeting armed group fighters, rocket-making workshops, weapons stores, military bases and bases as well as an Islamic Jihad tunnel leading to Israel or buildings housing Hamas offices.
- A warning to the Iranians
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu ordered Sunday the continuation of “massive strikes” and the sending of military reinforcements around the Gaza Strip.
“We support Israel 100% in the defense of its citizens,” tweeted Sunday evening US President Donald Trump. “To the people of Gaza – these terrorist acts against Israel will only bring you more suffering. STOP violence and work for peace – it can happen! “, he added.
Shortly thereafter, White House National Security Advisor John Bolton announced the deployment of the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier and carrier and a bomber force in the Middle East, stating that it was was a “clear and unmistakable message” to Iran.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, however, said in a statement Sunday night that a “return to a lull (was) possible” if Israel undertakes to observe a “total ceasefire”. Without this, we risk “several cycles of confrontation,” he added.
The escalation is taking place in Gaza as Donald Trump’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner, recently promised to unveil his peace plan after the end of Ramadan, which ends in early June. His proposals should not refer to the creation of a Palestinian state that coexists with Israel, a so-called two-state formula that has been at the heart of world diplomacy for years.