Israel approves unilateral ceasefire in Gaza offensive – WISH-TV | Indianapolis Information | Indiana climate
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) – Israel on Thursday announced a ceasefire in the bloody eleven-day war against Hamas militants that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life to a standstill in much of Israel.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the ceasefire after a nightly meeting of his security cabinet. The group unanimously approved an Egyptian proposal, although the sides were still defining when it should come into force.
Senior defense officials, including the military chief of staff and the national security adviser, recommended adopting the proposal after claiming “great successes” in the operation, the statement said.
Defense Secretary Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that “the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of operations”.
A security cabinet member said the ceasefire would take effect about three hours after the announcement at 2 a.m. He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the conversations in camera.
A Hamas official said the ceasefire declaration was a defeat for Netanyahu and “a victory for the Palestinian people”.
Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’s Bureau of Arab and Islamic Relations, told The Associated Press that the militants will remain on alert until they hear from mediators. As soon as Hamas hears from mediators, the group’s leadership will have discussions and make an announcement, he said.
Shortly after the announcement, airstrike sirens sounded in southern Israel, indicating an incoming rocket fire.
The deal would end the toughest round of fighting between the bitter enemies since a 50-day war in 2014, and there was again no clear winner. Israel did serious damage to Hamas but was unable to prevent the rocket fire that has disrupted the lives of millions of Israelis for more than a decade.
The fighting began on May 10 when Hamas militants in Gaza fired long-range missiles at Jerusalem after days of clashes between Palestinian protesters and the Israeli police on the grounds of the Al-Aqsa Mosque, a sacred hotspot for Jews and Muslims. Heavy police tactics on the premises and the threatened eviction of dozens of Palestinian families by Jewish settlers had sparked tension.
Israel launched hundreds of air strikes during the operation, targeting Hamas’ military infrastructure, including a vast network of tunnels. Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired over 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds missing out and most of the others intercepted.
At least 230 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, were killed, and 1,710 people were injured, according to the Gaza Ministry of Health, which does not split the numbers into militants and civilians.
Hamas and the Islamic Jihad militant group said at least 20 of their fighters had been killed, while Israel said they were at least 130. About 58,000 Palestinians have fled their homes, many of them seeking refuge in overcrowded UN schools at a time during an angry coronavirus outbreak.
Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, were killed.
Since the fighting began, the infrastructure of the Gaza Strip, which has been weakened by a 14-year blockade, has deteriorated rapidly.
Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running low in the area where Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after Hamas took power in 2007.
Israel regards Hamas, a militant Islamic group aiming to destroy it, as a terrorist group, and the Hamas government is not recognized internationally.
Israeli bombing has damaged over 50 schools across the area and destroyed at least six completely, according to Save the Children advocacy group. While repairs are in progress, nearly 42,000 children are disrupted from their education.
Israeli attacks have also damaged at least 18 hospitals and clinics and destroyed a health facility, the World Health Organization said. Almost half of all essential medications have been used up.