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Gaza: Israel, Palestinian militant group declare truce 

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Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group have declared a truce to end three-day clashes in the Gaza Strip.

The truce, mediated by Egypt, came into effect at 23:30 (20:30 GMT) raising hopes of an end to the most serious flare-up on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

It was announced in separate statements by Islamic Jihad and Israel, who both thanked Egypt for mediating the ceasefire.

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the truce and called for an investigation into who was responsible for civilian casualties inside Gaza.

Israel launched what it called pre-emptive strikes on Friday against what it anticipated would be an Islamic Jihad attack meant to avenge the arrest of a leader of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, in the occupied West Bank.

In response, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. At a news conference in Tehran, the group’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhala said Cairo would “work to secure the release” of al-Saadi.

Also read: Israel captures two more escaped Palestinian militants

The three-day clashes were relatively contained as Hamas, the governing Islamist group in the Gaza Strip and a more powerful force than Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, had so far stayed out.

Gaza officials said 44 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians and including children, had so far been killed.

On Sunday, Islamic Jihad extended its range to fire toward Jerusalem in what it described as retaliation for the overnight killing of its southern Gaza commander by Israel – the second such senior officer it has lost in the fighting.

Israel said it is Iron Dome interceptor shot down the rockets just west of the city.

The military said others had fallen short, causing several Gaza fatalities, while Hamas said all the Palestinian deaths were caused by the Israeli strikes.

 

Zainab Sa’id

Source Reuters
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