Islamic Jihad, Israel Agree to Cease-Fire

Egypt brokered the deal
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted May 13, 2023 3:15 PM CDT
Fighting Goes On After Gaza Cease-Fire Is Reported
A Palestinian youth throws a stone at an Israeli military vehicle during an Israeli army raid in the Balata refugee camp near the West Bank town of Nablus on Saturday.   (AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)

Israel and the Islamic Jihad militant group in the Gaza Strip agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire late Saturday, ending five days of intense fighting that left 33 Palestinians, including at least 13 civilians dead. Two people in Israel were killed by rocket fire. The cease-fire took effect just after 10pm, the AP reports, with a last-minute burst of rocket fire and Israeli airstrikes stretching several minutes past the deadline announced by Egypt. While the calm brought a sense of relief to Gaza's more than 2 million people and hundreds of thousands of Israelis who had been confined to bomb shelters in recent days, the agreement did nothing to address the underlying issues that have fueled numerous rounds of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip.

Tensions could quickly resume next week when Israel holds a contentious march through a main Palestinian thoroughfare in Jerusalem's Old City. Still, as the truce took hold, the deafening whooshes of outgoing rockets and booms of Israeli airstrikes was replaced by the honking of cars in Gaza. Streets that had been desolate in recent days quickly teemed with people reveling in the cease-fire, waving Palestinian flags and flashing victory signs from speeding vehicles. Amid the celebration, a fruit vendor used a loudspeaker, enthusiastically promoting his supply of bananas. Islamic Jihad leader Mohamad al-Hindi expressed appreciation for Egypt's effort on the deal. There was no immediate Israeli comment on the cease-fire announcement.

The latest violence erupted Tuesday when Israeli airstrikes killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders. Israel said that the airstrikes were in response to a previous burst of rocket fire the previous week and that its attacks have been focused on Islamic Jihad targets. But residents in Gaza said homes of people uninvolved in fighting also had been struck. Earlier Saturday, the Israeli military bombed an apartment belonging to Islamic Jihad commander Mohammed Abu Al Atta, among other targets including rocket launchers, it said. Islamic Jihad militants fired several barrages of rockets toward southern Israel, where tens of thousands of Israelis were instructed to remain close to safe rooms and bomb shelters. Hundreds of residents near the border were evacuated to hotels farther north.

(More Israel stories.)

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