The Israeli government and Hamas have agreed to a cease-fire late Thursday after 11 days of violence that saw more than 200 Palestinians and 12 Israelis killed in the worst fighting in the region in years.
A statement by the Israeli prime minister’s office said the security cabinet had “unanimously” agreed to accept the Egyptian proposal for a “mutual cease-fire,” but did not specify when it would start.
“The political leadership emphasises that it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation,” the statement said.
An hour after the Israel government’s announcement, Taher Al-Nono, the political adviser to the head of the political bureau of Hamas, issued a statement saying they had agreed to a cease-fire to start at 2 a.m. local time on Friday, as long as Israel abides by the same conditions.
The spokesman for the Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, said that if Israel launched an attack on Gaza before 2 a.m., the militant group was prepared to continue launching rockets.
There had been increasing speculation by Israeli media outlets on Thursday that a cease-fire to end the deadly conflict with Hamas and other armed groups in the Gaza Strip could come within a day. But the bombing continued.
The White House said Thursday that President Joe Biden had spoken to President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt, and “discussed efforts to achieve a ceasefire.” The White House also said the two leaders will stay “closely” in touch.
Some two million Palestinians live crammed into the tiny, 140-square-mile sliver of land that is the Gaza Strip. It’s one of the most tightly-packed human populations on Earth. Nebraska, for comparison, has a similar population living across its 77,000 square miles.
The misery in Gaza has been unrelenting. Israeli airstrikes have illuminated the skyline for 11 days, causing an inferno of destruction on the ground. The Gaza Health Ministry said on Thursday that the death toll from the bombing campaign had hit 230, with 65 children among the dead.
Israel, meanwhile, said on Thursday that Hamas had fired more than 4,000 rockets since the current violence began. The vast majority of those unpredictable projectiles have been intercepted by Israel’s advanced “Iron Dome” missile defense system, but the ones that slip through have killed 12 Israelis, including two children.
CBS News’ team in the southern Israeli town of Be’er Sheva had to join residents of an apartment building on Wednesday as they ducked into a bomb shelter when sirens blared, warning of another salvo of rockets from Gaza.
A day later, CBS News’ producer in Gaza said new airstrikes had again struck buildings in the north of the territory.
Israel insists it is carrying out precision strikes against militant targets and tunnel networks in Gaza, and that it does everything possible to avoid civilian casualties.
But Hamas officials said on Thursday that more than 100,000 Palestinians had been forced out of their homes by the Israeli strikes in just over a week, as hundreds of residential buildings have been razed or seriously damaged.
Israel blames Hamas for the civilian suffering in Gaza, accusing it of hiding amongst the population in the crowded territory. (CBS)