TEL AVIV — Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad have agreed to a ceasefire, ending five days of fighting between the two sides, a U.S. official and an Israeli official told NBC News on Saturday.
The ceasefire, brokered by Egypt, will begin at 10 p.m. local time.
“Now, thanks to the continuous efforts of Egypt, this agreement has been reached. We are grateful for this effort,” Mohamad al-Hindi told the Al Kahera Wal Nas channel.
There was no immediate comment from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or other officials.
Cairo called on all parties to abide by the agreement, Egypt’s Al-Qahera News television channel reported.
battle is dead 33 Palestinians in Gaza, including at least 13 civilians. In Israel, two people were killed by rockets, including an 80-year-old Israeli woman and a Palestinian man from Gaza who had a work permit in Israel.
The latest violence erupted on Tuesday, when Israeli airstrikes killed three top Islamic Jihad commanders. Israel said the airstrike was in response to a rocket launch last week that focused on Islamic Jihad targets. But residents of Gaza say the homes of people not involved in the fighting have also been attacked.
Israeli military raids on the Balata refugee camp near the northern city of Nablus sparked a firefight that left two Palestinians dead and drew attention to the flammable situation in the occupied West Bank. In another incident near the northern city of Jenin, Israeli police said they shot and killed a suspected Palestinian attacker who charged at soldiers with a knife.
Meanwhile, the Israeli military bombed an apartment belonging to Islamic Jihad commander Mohammad Abu Atta early Saturday, which included rocket launchers among other targets.
Islamic jihadist militants fired multiple rockets into southern Israel, instructing tens of thousands of Israelis to stay near safe rooms and bomb shelters. Hundreds of residents near the border were evacuated to hotels further north.
Israel’s military commander-in-chief, Lieutenant General Herzi Halwai, said Israel had made “significant achievements” throughout the battle and said the army was ready to continue fighting.
“We are prepared to continue our targeted strikes and strikes with increasing precision,” he added.
Hostilities broke out on Tuesday When Israel targeted and killed three senior Islamic Jihad commanders, they were said to be responsible for firing rockets into the country last week. At least 10 civilians were killed in the initial attack, including women, children and unrelated neighbors, which drew condemnation from the region.
Over the past few days, Israel has carried out more airstrikes, killing other senior Islamic Jihad commanders and destroying their command centers and rocket launch sites.
Palestinians ventured out Saturday to assess the damage caused by Israeli warplanes and salvage what they can. A man carefully removes documents from under the rubble. Another person removed a mattress.
Four houses in a densely populated neighborhood were reduced to ashes in the pre-dawn attack. The Israeli military said the targeted houses belonged to or were used by Islamic jihadist militants. Residents denied the army’s claims and said they did not know why their homes were targeted.
“We don’t have a rocket launch pad at all. It’s a residential area,” Awni Obaid said next to the ruins of his three-storey house in the central town of Deir Barah.
The nearby house of his relative, Jehad Obaid, was also razed. He was standing a few hundred meters away when his apartment was bombed.
“I wanted to throw up because of the dust,” he said. “This is extraordinary hatred. They claim they don’t attack children, but what we see is madness and destruction.”
Islamic Jihad retaliated by firing more than 1,200 rockets into southern and central Israel, according to the military. On Friday, the group escalated its attacks and fired rockets at Jerusalem, sounding air raid sirens in Israeli settlements south of the disputed capital.
Most of the rockets landed inside Gaza, either in open areas or were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system. But on Thursday, a rocket pierced a missile defense system and sliced through a house in the central city of Rehovot, killing an 80-year-old woman and wounding several others.
The larger militant group Hamas, which has fought four wars with Israel since taking control of Gaza in 2007, has praised the Islamic Jihad attacks but remains on the sidelines, limiting the scope of the conflict, according to Israeli military officials.
With the de facto government responsible for the dire conditions in the blockaded Gaza Strip, Hamas has recently tried to cover up its conflict with Israel.On the other hand, Islamic Jihad More ideological and unruly militant groups clinging to violence, taking the lead In past rounds of fighting with Israel.
Sanchez and Goldman reported from Tel Aviv; and Burke from Pittsburgh.
NBC News World News