Announcing the truce, a brief statement from the Israeli Prime Minister’s Office thanked Egypt for its mediation efforts, but warned that if it were breached, “the State of Israel reserves the right to react strongly”.
The announcement, which followed shortly after that of Islamic Jihad, came about 50 hours into the escalation, when Israel launched what it called preemptive strikes on Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza. At least 44 civilians and militants were killed in the escalation, according to information from Palestinian officials, and among them were 15 children.
Terms of the agreement were not immediately made public. However, the official Egyptian news agency reported that as part of the pressure for a truce, Cairo was trying to secure the release of an Islamic Jihad militant captured by Israel six days ago, as well as to ensure that a Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike in an Israeli prison be transferred to a hospital for medical treatment.
Previous ceasefire agreements reportedly saw Israel commit to easing its closure of Gaza.
Rockets launched towards Jerusalem
Khaled Mansour, an Islamic Jihad operations chief in southern Gaza, was killed in an airstrike on a building in Rafah, near the Egyptian border, according to Israeli officials. Israel said Mansour was responsible for a number of terror attacks against Israelis.
He was the second Islamic Jihad commander killed in the Israeli operation, dubbed “Breaking Dawn”. In one of the opening salvoes of the Israeli campaign on Friday afternoon, an airstrike killed Tayseer Al-Jabari, the militant group’s chief of operations in northern Gaza.
The Israeli military then struck dozens of additional targets in Gaza, including rocket launch sites, weapons manufacturing facilities and a tunnel it said was being built to allow militants to infiltrate. Israel and to carry out attacks. The Israeli army has also expanded its campaign in the West Bank, arresting around 40 suspected Islamic Jihad militants across the territory in two nights of operations.
Islamic Jihad, which is the smaller of the two main militant groups in Gaza, fired more than 900 rockets and mortars, according to Israeli officials, mostly at Israeli communities near Gaza, but it also fired several rockets at longer ranges. scope.
About 20% of the launches landed inside Gaza, an army spokesman told reporters. The Iron Dome air defense system, which is deployed against any incoming fire considered a threat to people or buildings, and which intercepted rockets fired at Jerusalem, was operating with a 97% success rate, the spokesperson.
Children among the dead
Forty-four Palestinians, including 15 children, were killed in the violence, according to the Palestinian Health Ministry. Israel has maintained that most of those killed in its airstrikes were militants, while Islamic Jihad has refused to release the names of its slain fighters, saying it would only do so when the escalation is over.
There have also been conflicting claims about responsibility for some of the deaths. In an incident on Saturday, four children were among seven people killed in an explosion in Jabaliya, northern Gaza. The Palestinian Health Ministry said the blast was caused by an Israeli airstrike, but Israel denied that claim, blaming errant rocket fire. The Israel Defense Forces released a video showing what they said was the Islamic Jihad rocket, apparently suddenly losing power and falling to the ground over a built-up area.
The presidency of the Palestinian Authority, which is based in the West Bank and has very limited influence over events in Gaza, strongly condemned Israel’s military operation and called for a firm response when the Security Council of the UN will hold a special session later to discuss the escalation.
One of the UN’s most pressing humanitarian priorities is to restore Gaza’s fuel supply, the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) told CNN. Stocks are so low that Gaza’s only power plant has been shut down since Saturday around noon, causing drastic cuts in electricity supplies across the territory.
Two water treatment plants and nine pumping stations have been forced to close due to power shortages, OCHA said, meaning 130,000 cubic meters of dirty water now flow directly into the Mediterranean Sea .
The impact is also being felt by households in Gaza, which now receive an average of three to four hours of electricity per day, compared to 16 hours previously, the Gaza Power Generating Company told CNN.
Fuel for the power plant is being trucked into Gaza through the Kerem Shalom crossing, which was closed by Israel six days ago amid fears Islamic Jihad was threatening an attack after a military operation in the West Bank city of Jenin, where Israeli forces captured one of the group’s senior commanders, Bassam al-Saadi, on Monday night.
Islamic Jihad leader meets Iranian president
The two-day standoff came while the Islamic Jihad leader was in Iran, meeting Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi and other senior officials.
Video obtained by Reuters shows Ziyad al-Nakhalah speaking with Raisi on Saturday in Tehran, a day after Israel launched its military operation against Islamic Jihad in Gaza.
Al-Nakhalah also spoke on Saturday with the commander of Iran’s Revolutionary Guards, Major General Hossein Salami, who praised “the quick response of the Palestinian Islamic Resistance” to the Israeli military operation, saying that it ” proves that a new era has begun for the resistance to seize power,” according to a report by Iranian news agency Fars.
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid drew attention to Al-Nakhalah’s visit to Iran when he spoke about the Gaza campaign on Friday.
“Our fight is not against the people of Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy who wants to destroy the State of Israel and kill innocent Israelis. The leader of Islamic Jihad is in Tehran as we speak. We will do whatever it takes to defend our people,” Lapid said.
CNN’s Abeer Salman and Andrew Carey reported from Jerusalem and Ibrahim Dahman from Gaza. Hadas Gold and Elliott Gotkine of CNN in Ashdod contributed to this report.