Israel approves unilateral ceasefire in Gaza offensive


Office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces ceasefire to stop 11-day military operation against Hamas militants in Gaza Strip

CITY OF GAZA, Gaza Strip – Israel on Thursday announced a ceasefire in a blue eleven-day war against Hamas militants that has caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and halted life in much of Israel.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has announced a ceasefire following a late-night meeting of his security cabinet. The group was said to have unanimously accepted the Egyptian proposal, although the parties were still determining exactly when it would take effect.

Senior defense officials, including the military chief of staff and a national security adviser, recommended accepting the proposal after claiming there were “great achievements” in the operation, the statement said.

“Political leaders have emphasized that the reality on the ground will be the one that determines the future of the campaign,” the statement said.

One member of the Security Cabinet said the ceasefire would take effect at 2 a.m., about three hours after the announcement. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss conversations behind closed doors.

Shortly after the announcement, air bomb sirens sounded in southern Israel indicating incoming rocket fire.

The agreement would close the hardest round of fighting between bitter enemies since the 50-day war in 2014, and once again there was no clear winner. Israel did great damage to Hamas, but failed to prevent rocket fire, which has disrupted the lives of millions of Israelis for more than a decade.

Fighting began on May 10, when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range rockets at Jerusalem after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police at the Al-Aqsa Mosque complex, a glittering site dedicated to Jews and Muslims. Tough police tactics in the complex and the threat of evictions of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers have fueled tensions.

Israel launched hundreds of air strikes during the operation, targeting what he said was Hamas’ military infrastructure, including a huge network of tunnels. Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, hundreds were missing and most of the rest were intercepted.

At least 230 Palestinians were killed, including 65 children and 39 women, and 1,710 people were injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, which does not divide the numbers into fighters and civilians.

Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group say at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel has said at least 130. About 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes, many seeking refuge in crowded UN schools at a time of frantic epidemic coronavirus.

Twelve people in Israel, including a five-year-old boy, a sixteen-year-old girl and a soldier, were killed.

Since the beginning of the fighting, the infrastructure of Gaza, which has already been weakened by a 14-year blockade, has been rapidly deteriorating.

Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are in the territory where Israel and Egypt imposed a blockade after Hamas took power in 2007.

Israel considers Hamas, an Islamic militant group seeking its destruction, a terrorist group, and the Hamas government is not internationally recognized.

The Israeli bombing damaged over 50 schools across the territory, according to the advocacy group Save the Children, completely destroying at least six. As they are repaired, education will be disrupted for nearly 42,000 children.


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