Gaza ceasefire apparently in place after violent flare-up that claimed four Israeli lives
Army lifts all restrictions on communities bordering Hamas-ruled enclave following days of heavy fire that saw more than 700 rockets launched at southern, central Israel; 23 Palestinians also killed; mobilized IDF troops still deployed along border
There was no official ceasefire announcement from either side, but the intense fighting over the past two days appeared to come to a sudden halt in the early morning hours, and Israeli military later said it lifted all protective restrictions on residents in southern Israel. Nevertheless, IDF troops continue to mass at along the Gaza border in preparation for a possible renewal of hostilities.
In the latest round-up of border fighting, which erupted over the weekend, Palestinian militants fired more than 700 rockets into Israel, killing four Israeli civilians, the first Israeli fatalities from rocket fire since 2014 Operation Protective Edge. The Israeli military responded with airstrikes on some 320 targets inside Gaza, which Palestinian medical officials say killed 23 people. IDF said most of those killed in their strikes were militants.
"The ceasefire understanding will begin Monday 04:30," a Palestinian official familiar with the agreement said. A second Palestinian official confirmed that a deal was reached, as well a TV station belonging to Hamas, Gaza's Islamist rulers.
The Israeli military confirmed its decision Monday morning, saying: "As of 7 a.m., all protective restrictions in the home front will be lifted." Schools and roads had been closed, and residents had been encouraged to remain indoors and near bomb shelters as intense rocket fire pounded the area.
Sources in the Gaza Strip say the Palestinian factions are committed to the ceasefire as long as Israel fulfils its part of the agreement reached. Sources added that Hamas has received guarantees from the Egyptian mediators that Israel will transfer to Gaza millions of Qatari financial aid and open the border crossing for entrance of goods and humanitarian aid to the Strip. Israel, for the their part, apparently said the renewal of any type of border violence will affect the term of the agreement.
Egyptian mediators had been working with the United Nations to broker a ceasefire. Under past Egyptian-brokered deals, Israel has agreed to ease a blockade of Gaza in exchange for a halt to rocket fire.
The latest fighting broke out after Palestinian militants accused Israel of not honoring an earlier ceasefire deal from March.
The terms of the latest deal were not immediately known, but recent ceasefires have been short-lived.