Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip have agreed to an Egyptian-mediated “comprehensive and mutual” truce to end days of cross-border violence that have left 25 Palestinians dead, a senior Egyptian security official told Reuters on Tuesday.
Gaza’s Hamas leadership and the Islamic Jihad faction confirmed the ceasefire with Al Jazeera on Tuesday, after four days of Israeli attacks. Israel accuses Palestinian factions of firing rockets into the country.
The latest round of violence began on Friday after Israel killed Zuhair Al-Qaisi, head of the Popular Resistance Committees, prompting militant groups to begin lobbing rockets over the border. The army said Qaisi had planned a deadly attack in August 2011 and accused him of planning a repeat attack “in the coming days.”
“We accept a ceasefire if Israel agrees to apply it by ending its aggressions and assassinations,” according to Daud Shehab, an Islamic Jihad spokesman said.
The United States welcomed the truce.”There are reports that the Egyptians have been able to negotiate some calm. If, in fact, that’s the case, that would, of course, be very welcome,” State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said in Washington according to AFP news agency.
Home Front Defence Minister Matan Vilnai told public radio, Israel had reached an “understanding” with militant groups in Gaza
The Palestinians and Israelis made rival calls Sunday for the UN Security Council to act as the international Quartet on the Middle East -the United States, European Union,United Nations and Russia -holds its first top-level meeting in six months on Monday.
Riyad Mansour, the Palestinian envoy to the UN, said the Security Council must “act with urgency to address this crisis,” accusing Israel of staging an “escalation of deadly violence and terror.”
In return, Israel criticised the international community’s “silence” over rocket attacks from Gaza, and said in a letter to the Security Council that it would take “all necessary measures” to protect civilians against the renewed barrage.