GAZA – Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian Islamist group which governs the Gaza Strip, say they have agreed to a ceasefire after five days of violence, the BBC informs. The latest clashes began when militants crossed into southern Israel and killed eight Israelis on Thursday. Subsequent Israeli air strikes on Gaza killed 15 Palestinians. One Israeli was killed in rocket fire from Gaza. The Quartet of Middle East peace mediators – the UN, US, EU and Russia – has called for restraint. A Palestinian official said that Hamas had agreed to ensure that the ceasefire was recognised by smaller militant groups in Gaza – which were responsible for most of the rockets fired at southern Israel in the past few days.
Prior to the announcement, Israeli media reported that 12 rockets launched from the Gaza Strip landed in southern Israel overnight. No injuries resulted. But on Monday, Gaza’s Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) agreed to halt rocket fire on Israel and abide by the Egyptian-brokered truce. The PRC – last to agree to the truce – said in a statement that this was a “temporary” measure “for the sake of the Palestinian people”. Earlier, Israel’s army radio reported that the security cabinet had decided the military would stop its air strikes on Gaza if militants there halted their attacks.
Tensions in and around Gaza rose rapidly after Thursday’s deadly shooting attacks in the Negev desert. This prompted a wave of retaliatory air strikes against the PRC that Israel said was responsible.