Islamic Jihad agrees to Egyptian-brokered truce
After flare-up on Friday, which included a barrage of rockets at Israel and wide-scale IDF attacks in the strip in response, Cairo is able to reach understandings to halt hostilities; earlier Saturday, IAF attacked 8 Islamic Jihad targets in response to continued rocket fire into Israel; defense minister holds situation assessment.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group said Saturday it had agreed to stop rocket fire at Israel following Egyptian intervention.
After firing the heaviest rocket barrage across the border since August, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, one of the armed groups that operates in Gaza, said understandings had been reached for a ceasefire with Israel with the help of Egyptian mediation.
"After contacts between the Islamic Jihad leadership and the brothers in Egypt, it was agreed that a comprehensive ceasefire will begin immediately," spokesman Daoud Shehab said. "Islamic Jihad will abide by the ceasefire if the occupation (Israel) does the same."
An IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, told reporters that Islamic Jihad was behind the rocket fire, after receiving orders from Iran's Quds Force based in Syria.
"We have seen and established a clear link between Gaza and Damascus. Orders and incentives were given from Damascus with a clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force," he said, adding that Israel's response will not be "limited geographically."
Conricus also emphasized that Israel still holds Hamas responsible for all fire out of Gaza, and has seen no signs of Hamas trying to stop the fire.
Following the escalation in the south, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman held security consultations with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and senior IDF and defense officials at the Kirya base in Tel Aviv.
In addition, Ben-Gurion Airport changed the planes' landing routes following the security situation.
The IAF struck dozens of terror sites across the Gaza Strip in response to nearly 40 rockets launched into Israel from Gaza. One of the targets destroyed was a building that served as Hamas' general security headquarters in Gaza's al-Daraj neighborhood.
On Saturday morning, IAF aircraft bombed eight Islamic Jihad targets in response to early morning rockets. The targets included three military sites, including sites for the manufacture of weapons in the northern Gaza Strip and a tunnel-manufacturing facility in the southern Gaza Strip.
Out of the 39 rockets launched into Israel, the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted 17. Two rockets landed inside the Gaza Strip and the rest landed in open areas in Israel. This was the heaviest barrage of rockets since early August, when 150 rockets were fired in two days.
The military wing of Islamic Jihad threatened Saturday morning to escalate the rocket fire. "We are considering increasing the scope and quality of the response if Israel continues its violence and aggression," Islamic Jihad said.
According to the terror group, it fired the rockets in retaliation for Israel's killing of four Palestinian protesters on Friday near the border
"The enemy must understand that the resistance will not accept the equations it imposes, based on killing from their side and silence on our side. We decided to respond to the aggression and acted with will-power and determination. We will maintain the resistance and its stance—bombing will be answered with bombing and blood with blood. We will be committed to a cease-fire deal if Israel commits to it. The Palestinian resistance will respond to any Israeli attack," the organization's statement read.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad is an Iranian-backed military group that sometimes operates independently of Gaza's Hamas rulers.