AFP/Press Trust of India
Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel on Tuesday after a severe escalation of violence threatened to descend into full-blown war.
The groups, including Hamas, issued a joint statement saying they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office and the military had not commented on the announcement.
Israel’s hardline defence minister, Avigdor Lieberman, issued a statement saying he did not support stopping the strikes.
“Egypt’s efforts have been able to achieve a ceasefire between the resistance and the Zionist enemy,” the statement by the Gaza groups said.
“The resistance will respect this declaration as long as the Zionist enemy respects it.”
Kuwait and Bolivia meanwhile requested an urgent closed-door meeting later Tuesday of the UN Security Council to discuss the violence, diplomats said.
The violent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was the worst since a 2014 war. Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the course of some 24 hours as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings while sending fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky.
Sirens wailed in southern Israel and tens of thousands of residents had taken cover in shelters as around 460 rockets and mortar rounds were fired from the Gaza Strip, wounding 27 people, including three severely.
A Palestinian labourer from the occupied West Bank was killed when a rocket hit a building in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.
Schools were closed in the Gaza Strip and in southern Israel as both sides warned the other that it would respond forcefully to any further violence.
Egypt has negotiated ceasefires following previous flare-ups, while UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov has also been seeking a long-term truce between the two sides in recent weeks.