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Israel, Gaza militants agree to shaky cease-fire
The truce between Israel and Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad comes after five days of fighting. The US has welcomed the cease-fire agreement
A cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad appeared to be holding on Sunday despite getting off to a shaky start.
Israeli and Egyptian media both reported on Saturday that a cease-fire agreement had been made and that the truce was reportedly set to begin at 10 p.m. local time (1900 GMT).
There were initial reports of rocket fire and airstrikes a short time after it came into force.
Israeli newspaper Times of Israel reported that the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) were attacking targets in Gaza, with Islamic Jihad continuing to fire rockets after the truce was meant to have come into effect. But then the situation appeared to calm down.
What are the details of the cease-fire deal?
On Saturday evening, Israel and Islamic Jihad agreed to a cease-fire mediated by Egypt, news agencies reported at first citing unnamed Palestinian officials.
News of a truce was confirmed by official channels a short while later in Israel, with thanks directed at Egypt's president for helping broker a cessation of fighting.
"Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi and expressed the appreciation of the State of Israel for Egypt's intensive efforts to secure a ceasefire," the office of the prime minister said in a tweet.
"Israel's acceptance of the Egyptian initiative means that 'quiet will be met with quiet,' and that if Israel is attacked or threatened, it will continue to do everything that it needs to in order to defend itself," Netanyahu's office tweeted.
"The two sides will abide by the cease-fire which will include an end to targeting civilians, house demolition, an end to targeting individuals immediately when the cease-fire goes into effect," the Reuters news agency cited the agreement as saying.
The US, Israel's closest ally, welcomed the deal.
"US officials worked closely with regional partners to achieve this resolution to the hostilities to prevent further loss of life and restore calm for both Israelis and Palestinians," White House Press Secretary Karine Jean-Pierre said in a statement.
Days of violence
Israel has been targeting leaders of Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza after Hamas, with airstrikes in the past week. Israel, the European Union and others have designated Islamic Jihad as a terrorist group.
The group has fired hundreds of rockets into Israel.
Senior Islamic Jihad figure Mohamad al-Hindi confirmed the cease-fire on the Egyptian Al-Qahera news channel. "Now, this agreement has been reached thanks to continuous Egyptian effort. We appreciate this effort," he said.
At least 34 Palestinians have been killed in the recent violence, 14 of which were civilians, including children, according to Palestinian health authorities.
One Israeli was also killed when a rocket hit an apartment in the town of Rehovot.
Egypt, which is blockading the Gaza enclave along with Israel, pushed for a truce amid the escalating violence.
kb, ab/wd (Reuters, AFP, AP)