Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire in Gaza

People in Gaza look as the city is turned to rubble by Israeli air strikes on May 13, 2021. [Twitter: @Omar_Gaza]
People in Gaza look as the city is turned to rubble by Israeli air strikes on May 13, 2021. [Twitter: @Omar_Gaza]

Israel and Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, have accepted an Egyptian-brokered deal to cease fighting at 2 a.m. (Friday local time) to end the 11-day bloodshed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced that the Israeli security cabinet approved on Thursday night the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Xinhua reported.

The decision came after a 2.5-hour discussion and was "unanimously" approved by the ministers, according to the office's statement.

"The political echelon emphasizes that the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the military campaign," the statement noted.

Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh was informed of the timing of the truce by Egypt, Hamas spokesman in Gaza Hazem Qassem said.

The Egyptian mediator informed Hamas that Israel had agreed to a mutual ceasefire, "and therefore we also agreed to the ceasefire," a Hamas source told Xinhua on condition of anonymity.

"We have obtained guarantees from the mediators that the aggression on Gaza will stop," Hamas leader in Lebanon Osama Hamdan told the news website Al Resala.

Taher al-Nouno, the media advisor of Haniyeh in Gaza, said the Palestinian armed resistance will be committed to the agreement as long as the Israeli side is.

Israel has been launching massive raids on the Palestinian enclave with airstrikes, artillery shellings and drone attacks since May 10, in response to the rockets fired by Palestinian militants in Gaza to retaliate for Israel's violation of the sacred Islamic holy site of Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem.

This is the heaviest fighting between Israel and Gaza militants since 2014, which has so far killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children and 39 women, and 12 Israelis.

Egypt, which has been leading the international mediation to end the Israeli-Palestinian bloodshed, will send two security delegations to Israel and Palestine to ensure the implementation of the truce, Egypt's official MENA news agency reported Thursday.

"Cairo will send two security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to follow up the implementation procedures," the report said.

Guterres welcomes Israel-Hamas ceasefire:

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Friday welcomed the ceasefire agreement reached between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas.

"I welcome the ceasefire between Gaza and Israel, after 11 days of deadly hostilities," Guterres told reporters a few minutes before the ceasefire took effect at 2 a.m. on Friday.

Guterres extended his deepest condolences to all the victims of the violence, and their loved ones, across Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory.

"I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel," he said, calling on all sides to observe the ceasefire.

Guterres said it was essential for the wider international community to work with the UN, and develop "an integrated, robust package of support for a swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery, that supports the Palestinian people and strengthens their institutions".

Leaders in Israel and Palestine have a responsibility "beyond the restoration of calm, to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict", he said.

Describing Gaza as an "integral part of the future Palestinian state", he said no effort should be spared to bring about "real national reconciliation that ends the division".

Guterres underscored the UN's "deep commitment" to working with Israelis and Palestinians, and with all international and regional partners, including through the Middle East Quartet, "to return to the path of meaningful negotiations to end the occupation and allow for the realization of a two-state solution on the basis of the 1967 lines, UN resolutions, international law and mutual agreements".Stabilizing the ceasefire is the immediate priority, he added.

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