Ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants holds overnight

Ceasefire between Israel and Gaza militants holds overnight
Rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel, in Gaza City, Sunday, August 7, 2022 (Hatem Moussa/AP/PA)

A fragile ceasefire deal to end nearly three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza held throughout the night and into Monday morning.

The flare-up was the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militant groups since Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers fought an 11-day war last year.

Since Friday, Israeli aircraft had pummelled targets in Gaza while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.

Members of the Palestinian Civil Defence evacuate a wounded man following an explosion in the Jebaliya refugee camp, northern Gaza Strip (Ahmad Hasaballah/AP/PA)

Over three days of fighting, 44 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women, and 311 were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Islamic Jihad said 12 of those killed were militants and Israel said some were killed by misfired rockets.

On Monday Israel said it was partially reopening crossings into Gaza for humanitarian needs and would fully open them if calm was maintained.

Security precautions imposed in recent days on residents of southern Israel were being gradually lifted on Monday, the military said.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since the group overran the territory in 2007.

Israel launched its operation with a strike on Friday on a leader of the Islamic Jihad, saying there were “concrete threats” of an anti-tank missile attack against Israelis in response to the arrest last week of another senior Islamic Jihad member in the West Bank.

That arrest came after months of Israeli raids in the West Bank to round up suspects following a spate of Palestinian attacks against Israel.

It killed another Islamic Jihad leader in a strike on Saturday.

Israel said some of the deaths during this round were caused by errant rocket fire, including one incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six Palestinians were killed Saturday.

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which a top Islamic Jihad militant was killed following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza strip on Sunday (Yousef Masoud/AP/PA)

On Sunday, a projectile hit a home in the same area of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it was investigating whether the area was struck by an errant rocket.

In the occupied West Bank on Monday, Israeli troops demolished the homes of two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a deadly attack against Israelis in the city of Elad in May. The soldiers faced a violent protest during the operation, the military said.

US President Joe Biden said he welcomed the ceasefire between Israel and Gaza-based militants.

“Over these last 72-hours, the United States has worked with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict,” he said in a statement on Sunday.

The UN Security Council was to hold an emergency meeting on Monday on the violence. China, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the session in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.

The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets toward Israel. The army said its air defences had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down being fired toward Jerusalem.

Over the past year, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade, imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago.

Israel has issued 12,000 work permits to Gaza laborers, and has held out the prospect of granting another 2,000 permits.

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