In announcing the ceasefire, a brief statement from the Israeli prime minister’s office thanked Egypt for its mediation efforts, but warned that if it was violated, “the State of Israel reserves the right to respond strongly.”
The announcement followed one of the Islamic Jihad attacks, 50 hours after the escalation began, when Israel launched preemptive strikes against Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. At least 44 civilians and militants were killed in the escalation, including 15 children, according to Palestinian officials.
Terms of the deal were not immediately made public. However, Egypt’s official state news agency reported that in an effort to broker a ceasefire, Cairo was working to secure the release of an Islamic Jihad militant captured by Israel six days ago, as well as a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli prison. Transfer to hospital for medical treatment.
Previous ceasefire agreements have reportedly seen Israel commit to facilitating the closure of Gaza.
Rockets fired towards Jerusalem
Khaled Mansour, the leader of Islamic Jihad’s operations in southern Gaza, was killed in an airstrike on a building in Rafah, near the border with Egypt, Israeli officials said. Israel said Mansour was responsible for several terrorist attacks against Israelis.
He was the second Islamic Jihad commander to be killed in Israeli action, dubbed “Breaking Dawn”. An airstrike killed the militant group’s chief of operations in northern Gaza, Taysir al-Jabari, in the opening salvos of the Israeli campaign on Friday afternoon.
Israeli forces hit dozens of additional targets in Gaza, including rocket launching sites, weapons manufacturing facilities and tunnels built to allow terrorists to infiltrate and carry out attacks in Israel. Israeli forces have stepped up their operations in the West Bank, detaining around 40 suspected Islamic Jihad militants in a two-night operation.
Islamic Jihad, the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza, has fired more than 900 rockets and mortars, mainly at Israeli communities near Gaza, but has also fired several long-range rockets, according to Israeli officials.
About 20% of the missiles landed in Gaza, an army spokesman told reporters. The Iron Dome aerial defense system, which is deployed against any fires assessed as a threat to people or buildings and intercepts rockets fired at Jerusalem, is operating with a 97% success rate, a spokesman said on Sunday.
Children among the dead
The violence killed 44 Palestinians, including 15 children, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. Israel said most of those killed in its airstrikes were militants, while Islamic Jihad declined to release the names of its killed fighters, saying it would do so only when there was an increase.
Conflicting claims have also been made on responsibility for some of the deaths. In an incident on Saturday, seven people, including four children, were killed in an explosion in Jabaliya, northern Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the explosion was caused by an Israeli airstrike, but Israel denied the claim, blaming errant rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces released a video showing an Islamic Jihad rocket apparently suddenly losing power and falling to the ground over a built-up area.
The Palestinian Authority presidency, which is based in the West Bank and has very limited influence over events in Gaza, strongly condemned Israel’s military action and called for a strong response when the UN Security Council later held a special session to discuss the escalation.
Restoring fuel supplies to Gaza is one of the United Nations’ top humanitarian priorities, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told CNN. Stocks are so low that Gaza’s single power plant has been shut down since midnight on Saturday, causing a sharp cut in electricity supplies across the region.
Power shortages have forced the closure of two water treatment plants and nine pumping stations, OCHA said, with 130,000 cubic meters of dirty water now flowing directly into the Mediterranean Sea.
Gazan households are also feeling the effects, now receiving an average of three to four hours of electricity per day, down from 16 hours, the Gaza Power Generating Company told CNN.
Fuel for the power plant is brought into Gaza by truck through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which Israel shut down six days ago after Israeli military operations in the West Bank city of Jenin over fears of an Islamic Jihad attack. A senior commander of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, was detained on Monday night.
The leader of Islamic Jihad met the President of Iran
The two-day encounter came as the Islamic Jihad leader was in Iran, meeting with Iranian President Ibrahim Raisi and other top officials.
Video obtained by Reuters shows Ziad al-Nakhlah holding talks with Raisi in Tehran on Saturday, a day after Israel launched a military operation against Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Al-Nakhlah also spoke Saturday with Major General Hossein Salami, the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, who praised the “quick response of the Palestinian Islamic resistance” to the Israeli military operation, saying “a new era has begun. Resistance to take power,” according to Iran’s Fars news agency. According to reports.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid drew attention to Al-Nakhlah’s visit to Iran when speaking about the campaign in Gaza on Friday.
“Our fight is not with the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy that wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The head of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak. We will do whatever it takes to defend. Our people,” Lapid said. .
CNN’s Abir Salman and Andrew Carey reported from Jerusalem and Ibrahim Dahman from Gaza. CNN’s Hadas Gold and Elliott Gotkine in Ashdod contributed to this report.