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Ceasefire Takes Effect in Gaza as Israeli FM Warns Militants

Ceasefire Takes Effect in Gaza as Israeli FM Warns Militants

Thursday, 14 November, 2019 - 06:00
An explosion caused by Israeli airstrikes is seen in Gaza City, early Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

A Gaza Strip ceasefire between militants and Israel came into effect early Thursday, following a spike in violence and bloodshed in the Palestinian enclave.

The "ceasefire agreement comes as a result of Egypt's efforts" and has been endorsed by "Palestinian factions including Islamic Jihad", said a top Egyptian official.

According to the official, the deal stipulates that Palestinian factions must ensure a return to calm in Gaza and "maintain peace" during demonstrations, while Israel must stop hostilities and "ensure a ceasefire" during protests by Palestinians.

The agreement, which entered into force at 5:30am, came after the death toll from Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip rose to 32 since Tuesday after Palestinian officials said six members of the same family had been killed.

Following the targeted killing of senior Islamic Jihad commander Baha Abu al-Ata and his wife Asma in Gaza, the two sides had been exchanging fire since Tuesday, and Israel's military said it recorded more than 350 incoming rockets.

The Israeli military had been targeting what it said were Jihad sites and rocket-launching squads in the coastal enclave.

"Six members of the Abu Malhous family, including three children and two women, were killed in an Israeli strike on their family home in Deir al-Balah in the southern Gaza Strip," the Palestinian ministry of health said.

The previous day, Israel said it targeted two Jihad militants preparing to fire anti-tank missiles.

A total of 32 Palestinians had been killed by Thursday morning, including Ata and his wife as well as three children, according to Gaza's Hamas-run health ministry.

There have been no Israeli deaths, though one rocket narrowly missed cars on a busy highway.

Israeli medics said they had treated 48 people for light wounds, while schools were closed in areas near the Gaza border for a second day running.

In a sign it was seeking to avoid a wider conflict, Israel's announced targets were confined to Islamic Jihad sites and not those belonging to Hamas.

It normally holds Hamas, the movement that rules the Gaza Strip, responsible for all rocket fire from the enclave.

Israel will follow suit if Palestinian fighters in Gaza stop cross-border attacks, Foreign Minister Israel Katz said on Thursday.

"Quiet will be answered with quiet," Katz told Army Radio. "Israel will not hesitate to strike at those who try to harm it, from the Gaza Strip or from anywhere else."

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