Ceasefire deal ends Israeli bombing campaign in Gaza that killed 44

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At least 15 children were killed in the three-day long bombardment and a further 360 were wounded

The ceasefire came into effect at 11:30pm local time (8:30pm GMT) on Sunday. Both Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, the main target of Israel in this round of fighting, have confirmed the ceasefire and claimed victory. 

According to the PIJ chief Ziyad Nakhla, the group came out on top after Israel failed to destroy its capabilities as it promised it would do. He also said the ceasefire was conditioned on the release of two PIJ officials arrested in the occupied West Bank by Israel.

Four Palestinian children were killed Sunday in new Israeli strikes on the Gaza Strip, despite reports of a possible truce, the health ministry of the enclave’s ruling Palestinian Hamas movement said.

Israel began its military operation, labelled “Breaking Dawn,” on Friday. So far, Israeli airstrikes have killed several senior Islamic Jihad members, including high-ranking commanders Khaled Mansour and Tayseer al-Jabari. 

The Israeli military claimed both Mansour and al-Jabari were planning terror attacks.  

Since the beginning of the Israeli military operation targeting the Palestinian armed movement Islamic Jihad on Friday, “41 Palestinians have been martyred, including 15 children and four women, and 311 have been injured” in the Gaza Strip, the ministry said in a statement.

AP reported that an Israeli airstrike hit a car and a horse-drawn cart on the main street in Gaza City on Sunday, causing several casualties. Al-Shifa hospital reported that three bodies had arrived from the site of the explosion.

The violence came despite a truce proposed earlier by Egyptian mediators for a Gaza truce to take effect at 10 pm (1900 GMT, 2100 CET) on Sunday, according to reports quoting Egyptian security sources.

Israel agreed to Cairo’s proposition, Reuters and the AFP news agency both said, quoting security sources. A source in the Palestinian group confirmed that negotiations were underway.

Israeli caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid met with his defence minister and chief of staff at the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) headquarters on Sunday.

Lapid said the military would continue to strike targets in Gaza in what they claim “in a pinpoint and responsible way in order to reduce to a minimum the harm to non-combatants”.

Israel and Gaza fighters have been exchanging fire across the border since Friday, in the worst violence between Israel and Palestinian militants since the end of an 11-day war in 2021.

Early on Sunday, Palestinian militants fired rockets toward Jerusalem, causing no casualties but signalling new reach and resolve as Israel pressed air strikes in the Gaza Strip.

The Islamic Jihad faction said it targeted Jerusalem in retaliation for Israel’s killing overnight of its commander in southern Gaza. He was the second leader to be slain amid an escalating cross-border conflict.

Hamas, the ruling Islamist authority of Gaza, has mostly stayed out the conflict so far. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have both been deemed terrorist organizations by Western countries and share the same goal of eliminating Israel.

Egypt has played a key role in mediation efforts. Last year, Egypt brokered a truce which ended an 11-day war between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip.

The ceasefire agreement, if reached, will include an Egyptian follow-up of the cases of the Palestinian prisoners in Israel, mainly Bassam al-Saadi, a PIJ senior leader who was arrested last week from home in the West Bank.

Meanwhile, Palestinian Prime Minister Mohammed Ishtaye told a news briefing in the West Bank city of Ramallah that President Mahmoud Abbas has instructed the Palestinian UN envoy Riyad Mansour to call for an emergency session at the UN Security Council to stop the tension in Gaza.

Gaza’s worsening humanitarian crisis 

The humanitarian situation has been worsening in Gaza amid the latest flare up. 

Gaza’s hospital chief said injured people were arriving “every minute” at Shifa hospital in Gaza City. There’s a shortage of medicine in Gaza, along with frequent power outages.   

Israel closed its crossings with Gaza earlier this week due to security concerns. Gaza’s sole power plant was forced to shut down due to a lack of fuel on Saturday.

Gaza’s Health Ministry warned that medical services would cease on Tuesday due to a lack of electricity.

The UN said the electricity outages would also cause the water supply in Gaza to be interrupted, further exacerbating the humanitarian crisis.  

wd/fb (AFP, Reuters)   

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