Cease fire between Israel, Gaza militants after a year of fierce clashes

The cease-fire announced Sunday evening by both sides came nearly 50 hours after the escalation began, when Israel launched what it called a pre-emptive strike on Islamic Jihad militant group targets in Gaza.

At least 44 Palestinians, including 15 children and some militants, were killed in the violence, according to Palestinian officials.

The escalation was the most serious in nearly 15 months, when the Israeli military and Hamas waged an 11-day war in May 2021. The major difference this time is Hamas’ decision to withdraw from the fight. Its statements blame Israel for the escalation but have consistently stopped short of threatening attacks in retaliation.

The Israeli Prime Minister’s Office thanked Egypt for its mediation efforts but warned that “the State of Israel reserves the right to respond forcefully” if the ceasefire is violated.

Terms of the deal were not immediately made public. However, Egypt’s official state news agency reported that in an effort to end the ceasefire, Cairo was working to free an Islamic Jihad militant captured by Israel six days ago and would ensure the transfer of a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli prison. Hospital for medical treatment.

In a statement issued by the State Department on Monday, US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken welcomed the ceasefire.

“The agreement brings a welcome respite for Israeli and Palestinian citizens and permits the delivery of critical fuel and other supplies to Gaza,” the statement said.

“The United States remains committed to our ironclad commitment to Israel’s security and remains fully engaged in promoting calm in the days ahead. We will continue in the coming months to work with partners to improve the quality of life for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.”

Fuel supplies re-entered Gaza from Israel on Monday to resupply the territory’s only power plant after fuel stocks ran out on Saturday, amid weekend protests. The shortage led to severe cuts in power supply across the region.

Israel and Egypt have imposed a closure on Gaza since 2007, limiting access to the territory by land, air and sea, including tight restrictions on the movement of residents and the flow of goods.

About 30 tankers crossed from the Kerem Shalom crossing point to Gaza’s power plant on Monday morning, a Hamali representative told AFP.

By the end of Monday, enough diesel will arrive at the site to restart three of the plant’s four gas turbines, Mohammed Thabet of Gazan Power Generating Company told CNN.

Israel says Islamic Jihad has dealt a ‘significant blow’

A senior Israeli diplomatic official said on Monday that Islamic Jihad had suffered a “very significant blow” and was set back decades ago by an Israeli operation that ousted several of the militant group’s senior leaders.

Khaled Mansour, the leader of Islamic Jihad’s operations in southern Gaza, was killed Saturday in an airstrike on a building in Rafah, near the border with Egypt. Israel has blamed Mansour for several terrorist attacks against Israelis.

He was the second Islamic Jihad commander to be killed in the Israeli operation, dubbed “Breaking Dawn”. In one of the opening salvos of the Israeli operation on Friday afternoon, an airstrike killed Taysir al-Jabari, the militant group’s chief of operations in northern Gaza.

Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza, has fired about 1,175 rockets toward Israel since Friday, according to the latest Israeli figures, mainly toward Israeli communities close to Gaza. The group fired rockets toward Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said on Monday that about 185 rockets were fired into Gaza. The Iron Dome air defense system, deployed against any incoming fire judged to be a threat to people or buildings, and intercepting rockets fired at Jerusalem, is working with a 96% success rate, an IDF spokesman said Monday.

The Kerem Shalom crossing on the Gaza border was reopened this morning for the movement of goods, according to Israel's Defense Ministry.

An Israeli diplomatic official acknowledged that Israel’s operation may have caused some civilian deaths and the movement of militants, saying initial assessments suggested “most” civilian casualties were the result of errant rocket fire by Islamic Jihad. Civilian casualties are always a tragedy, the official said.

There are conflicting claims about responsibility for some of the deaths. In an incident on Saturday, four children were among seven people killed in an explosion in Jabalia, northern Gaza. The Palestinian Ministry of Health said the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike, but Israel rejected the claim, blaming errant rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces released a video showing an Islamic Jihad rocket suddenly losing power and falling to the ground in a built-up area.

The European Union on Monday welcomed a cease-fire between Israel and called for an investigation into the deaths of Palestinian civilians in Gaza.

“The EU condemns the loss of civilian lives, including the numerous children and women killed and injured in the Gaza Strip in recent days. The EU calls for a timely and thorough investigation into these civilian casualties,” the EU said in a statement. .

The Palestinian Authority presidency, which is based in the West Bank and has very limited influence over events in Gaza, strongly condemned Israel’s military operation and called for a strong response when the UN Security Council later held a special session to discuss the escalation.

People run for cover during an airstrike in Gaza City on Saturday.

The Israeli official saw Hamas’ decision to withdraw from the fight as a vindication of the Israeli government’s policy of taking steps to improve economic conditions in Gaza, such as by increasing the number of permits for workers to enter Israel. Hamas, the official emphasized, “is not an enemy partner … but there is cooperation that we can do, mainly through Egypt, to improve the situation in Gaza.”

Restoring energy supplies to Gaza is among the UN’s most pressing humanitarian priorities, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told CNN. A shutdown of Gaza’s power plant over the weekend caused severe power cuts across the territory.

Power shortages forced the closure of two water treatment plants and nine pumping stations, OCHA said, meaning 130,000 cubic meters of dirty water was flowing directly into the Mediterranean Sea.

CNN’s Abir Salman and Andrew Carey reported from Jerusalem and Ibrahim Dahman from Gaza. CNN’s Hadas Gold and Elliott Gotkin in Ashdod contributed to this report.

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