Last Update 11:10
Monday, 26 August 2019

Palestinians say truce reached with Israel to end deadly escalation: AFP report

AFP , Monday 6 May 2019
Young girls
Young Palestinian girls and a man gather among debris and shattered glass in a room that was hit during an Israeli air strike on the city of Rafah in the southern Gaza strip on May 5, 2019. (Photo: AFP)
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1156
Share/Bookmark
Views: 1156

Palestinian leaders in the Gaza agreed to a ceasefire with Israel on Monday to end a deadly two-day escalation in violence that threatened to widen into a fourth war between them since 2008.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined to comment on the deal, but there appeared to have been no rocket fire or Israeli strikes in the hours after it was due to take effect, an AFP correspondent in Gaza said.

Israel also lifted restrictions on civilian movements in its communities around the Israeli-besieged Gaza Strip border on Monday morning.

Egypt brokered the agreement to cease hostilities from 4:30 am (0130 GMT), an official from the strip's Islamist rulers Hamas and another from its allied group Islamic Jihad said on condition of anonymity.

An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal on condition of anonymity.

It came after the most serious flare-up in violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the deadly Israeli war on the strip in 2014.

The escalation reportedly began Saturday with massive rocket fire from Gaza, drawing waves of Israeli retaliatory strikes, and continued throughout Sunday.

At least 23 Palestinians, including at least nine militants, were killed.

Four Israelis were killed.

Sensitive time

The flare-up came as Hamas sought further steps from Israel toward easing its blockade under a previous ceasefire brokered by Egypt and the United Nations.

Israel at the same time faced pressure to restore calm and put an end to the rockets hitting communities in the country's south.

It commemorates its "Memorial and Independence Days" later this week and is due to host the Eurovision song contest in Tel Aviv from May 14-18, which is expected to draw thousands to Israel.

On the Gazan side, the Muslim holy month of Ramadan began Monday.

Palestinian officials in Gaza accused Israel of not taking steps to ease its blockade as promised under previous ceasefire 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.

Israeli opposition politicians -- and at least one from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's own party -- criticised the agreement.

Former military chief Benny Gantz, who challenged Netanyahu in Israel's April 9 general elections, called it "another capitulation to blackmail by Hamas and terrorist organisations."

Brink of war

Israel has fought three wars against Palestinian militants in Gaza since 2008, leaving thousands of Palestinians killed or injured, and the escalation brought them to the brink of another.

The Palestinian dead included a commander for Hamas's armed wing who Israel claimed it targeted due to his role in transferring money from Iran to militant groups in Gaza.

It was a rare admission of a targeted killing by Israel's army.

Israel said its strikes were in response to Hamas and Islamic Jihad firing some 690 rockets or mortars across the border since Saturday, with air defences intercepting more than 240 of them.

In addition to those killed and injured, the rockets repeatedly set off air raid alarms in southern Israel and sent residents running to shelters while also damaging houses.

At least 35 of the rockets fell in urban areas, according to the Israeli army.

The army said its tanks and planes hit some 350 militant targets in Gaza in response.

It targeted militant sites and in some cases militants themselves as well as their homes if they were found to be storing weapons, military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said.

Several buildings in Gaza City were destroyed, including one Israel said included Hamas military intelligence and security offices.

Turkey said its state news agency Anadolu had an office in the building and strongly denounced the strike.

Gaza's health ministry said the dead from the Israeli strikes included a 14-month-old baby and a pregnant woman, 37. It first identified the woman as the baby's mother, but the family later clarified she was the aunt.

Israel strongly disputed the claim, with Conricus saying that based on intelligence the deaths of the woman and baby were not due to an Israeli strike.

"Their unfortunate death was not a result of (Israeli) weaponry but a Hamas rocket that was fired and exploded not where it was supposed to," he said.

The Gazan ministry reported late Sunday that another four-month-old baby was among those killed in Israeli strikes in the northern Gaza Strip. Israel's army had no comment.

On Sunday, Hamas and Islamic Jihad said their armed wings had targeted an Israeli army vehicle with a Kornet anti-tank missile.

Conricus said a Kornet missile had hit a vehicle and killed an Israeli civilian.

Calls for calm

Egyptian and UN officials held talks throughout to reach a truce, as they have done repeatedly in the past, and there were international calls for calm.

US President Donald Trump meanwhile assured Israel on Sunday that it had Washington's full support against "these terrorist acts."

The escalation followed a gradual uptick in violence that threatened a previous ceasefire, including Friday clashes along the Gaza border that were the most violent in weeks.

A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, brokered by Egypt and the United Nations, had led to relative calm around Israel's election last month.

That truce saw Israel allow Qatar to provide millions of dollars in aid to Gaza, paying salaries and financing fuel purchases to ease severe electricity shortages.

*This story was edited by Ahram Online

Short link:

 

Email
 
Name
 
Comment's
Title
 
Comment
Ahram Online welcomes readers' comments on all issues covered by the site, along with any criticisms and/or corrections. Readers are asked to limit their feedback to a maximum of 1000 characters (roughly 200 words). All comments/criticisms will, however, be subject to the following code
  • We will not publish comments which contain rude or abusive language, libelous statements, slander and personal attacks against any person/s.
  • We will not publish comments which contain racist remarks or any kind of racial or religious incitement against any group of people, in Egypt or outside it.
  • We welcome criticism of our reports and articles but we will not publish personal attacks, slander or fabrications directed against our reporters and contributing writers.
  • We reserve the right to correct, when at all possible, obvious errors in spelling and grammar. However, due to time and staffing constraints such corrections will not be made across the board or on a regular basis.
Latest

© 2010 Ahram Online.