A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas aimed at ending eleven days of intense bombing on the besieged Gaza Strip appeared to be holding early on Friday, despite cross-border attacks in the hours leading up to the truce.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said in a statement on Thursday that it had accepted Egypt’s proposal for a “mutual” ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, after several days of mounting international pressure.
The ceasefire, if it holds, would end the heaviest Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip since its 2014 offensive.
Over the last 11 days, Israeli air strikes killed at least 232 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Of those killed, 65 were children, 39 were women and 17 were elderly men. In Israel, 12 people were killed.
Palestinians in Gaza and the occupied territories took to the streets to celebrate at 2 am local time, (23:00 GMT Thursday), when the ceasefire came into effect.
Celebratory gunfire and fireworks could be heard while mosques used their loudspeakers to broadcast celebratory chants as the war-torn enclave hailed the apparent end to some of the worst violence in a decade.
The ceasefire comes amid heightened pressure from the US and the European Union.
In remarks delivered on Thursday evening, US President Joe Biden Biden commended both Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and Netanyahu for the truce, while reiterating that the US “fully supports Israel’s right to defend itself against indiscriminate rocket attacks from Hamas and other Gaza based terrorist groups”.
“These hostilities have resulted in the tragic deaths of so many civilians, including children, and I send my sincere condolences to all the families, Israeli and Palestinian, who have lost loved ones,” Biden said.
Biden added that the US was committed to providing humanitarian assistance and support for reconstruction efforts in Gaza, but would only work with the Palestinian Authority, not Hamas.
(Report appeared in Middle East Eye. Read full report here: https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/israel-gaza-hamas-agree-ceasefire )