Israel and Hamas agree ceasefire to end 11 days of fighting

Truce to end conflict that has killed nearly 250 to take effect from midnight

United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has blasted both Israel and the Palestinians for civilian deaths in their military conflict, saying, "even wars have rules." Video: Reuters

Your Web Browser may be out of date. If you are using Internet Explorer 9, 10 or 11 our Audio player will not work properly.
For a better experience use Google Chrome, Firefox or Microsoft Edge.

 

A ceasefire ending the fighting between Israel and the militant groups in Gaza is to go into effect in the early hours of Friday.

Israel’s security cabinet, aware of the increasing international pressure to end the fighting, endorsed the truce at a meeting on Thursday night.

Hamas, the militant group that runs Gaza, confirmed that a truce would take effect from 2am on Friday – midnight Irish time.

Ahead of the start of the truce, Israel ordered its main Ben Gurion international airport closed to all incoming and outgoing flights, fearing Hamas would launch a last-minute barrage of rockets.

Israel believes it will take Hamas years to rebuild its military strength and that the current campaign will buy an extended period of calm. However, it remains to be seen how Israel will respond in the future to isolated rocket fire or cross border incidents, such as the launching of incendiary balloons.

The fighting continued throughout Friday as the diplomatic efforts via Egyptian and United Nations mediators went into top gear.

At least 232 Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip, including 65 children, and more than 1,700 people have been injured, according to Gaza’s Hamas-run health ministry, since the conflict erupted at the start of last week.

According to the Israeli military, at least 160 of the fatalities were militant fighters. Israel indicated that Hamas may be under-reporting its casualty figures by failing to include the number of militants killed in Israeli strikes.

In Israel, 12 civilians have been killed, as well as a soldier, and more than 600 people injured.

Bombardments

The latest escalation began last Monday week with a massive rocket salvo from Gaza aimed at the Jerusalem area, following days of clashes, including around the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem’s old city. Palestinian anger was fuelled by plans to expel residents from the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood to make way for Jewish families.

Israel responded to the rocket fire from Gaza with deadly air strikes.

Despite the relentless Israeli bombardments, Hamas can claim a number of significant achievements from the 11-day conflict: it surprised Israel with its rocket barrage on the Jerusalem area at the start of the fighting and managed to fire more than 4,000 projectiles at Israel; it hit Tel Aviv a number of times, closing Israel’s main international airport; it put the question of Jerusalem centre stage of the conflict; it asserted itself as the dominant group defending Palestinian interests; and it caused unprecedented communal Jewish-Arab clashes inside Israel.

One positive story has emerged from the violence. The family of a Jewish man who was killed by Arab rioters last week, during a wave of communal violence that swept the country, agreed to donate his kidney to an Arab Christian woman.

Yigal Yehoshua (56) died after he was hit on the head with a brick in the mixed Jewish-Arab city of Lod, near Tel Aviv. Randa Awis, a 58-year-old resident of Jerusalem, had waited nine years for a transplant.

“This Jewish kidney has now become a part of me,” she said, thanking the donor family. “I wish for peace between Jews and Arabs. We are all human beings.”