Israelis, Palestinians agree on ceasefire in Gaza Strip

ISLAMABAD, Aug 08 (Alliance News): Israel and the Islamic Jihad group agreed to a Cairo-brokered ceasefire, raising hopes of ending the worst clashes on the Gaza border in more than a year.

According to foreign media , Islamic Jihad and the Israeli government said in separate statements that the ceasefire came into effect at 8:30 p.m.

Over the past few days, Israeli forces have shelled the Gaza Strip in response to long-range missiles targeting its cities.

Hamas, the ruling group in the Gaza Strip that is a more powerful force than the Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, has so far remained aloof during recent clashes.

Gaza authorities said that 43 Palestinians have been killed so far in Israeli attacks, about half of them civilians and children.

Islamic Jihad rockets, on the other hand, have threatened much of southern Israel, and residents of cities including Tel Aviv and Ashkelon were sent to shelters.

Israel launched the pre-emptive strikes on Islamic Jihad in retaliation for the capture of one of the group’s leaders in the occupied West Bank, Bassam al-Saadi.

In response, Islamic Jihad said it had fired hundreds of rockets at Israel, with the group saying the ceasefire would include the release of Bassam al-Saadi.

Later on Sunday, Islamic Jihad stepped up missile strikes toward Jerusalem in retaliation for the overnight killing of its southern Gaza commander in an Israeli strike, the second senior member it has lost in the fighting.

Israel said its Iron Dome interceptor, which the military says has a 97 percent success rate, shot down the rockets just west of the city.

Nine children were among the 17 Palestinians killed in Gaza on Sunday, bringing the death toll to 41 since fighting began on Friday.

Gaza’s Health Ministry says more than 300 people have been injured in Gaza since Saturday, after two rockets were fired into the center of Israel’s commercial capital, Tel Aviv, on Sunday evening.

The Israeli army has said that “all the senior leadership of the military wing of the Islamic Jihad in Gaza has been eliminated”.

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