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Kamis, 20 Mei 2021

Israel and Hamas agree to ceasefire in Gaza Strip after 11-day conflict leaves hundreds dead - ABC News

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a ceasefire to halt an 11-day military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The decision came after heavy US pressure to halt the offensive.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced the ceasefire after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. It said the group had unanimously accepted an Egyptian proposal, though the sides were still determining exactly when it would take effect.

The public broadcaster Kan said the fighting was to halt immediately, while other TV channels said it would go into effect at 2:00am (9:00am AEST).

Senior defence officials, including the military chief of staff and national security adviser, recommended accepting the proposal after claiming "great accomplishments" in the operation, the statement said.

"The political leaders emphasised that the reality on the ground will be that which determines the future of the campaign," the statement said.

Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that “the reality in the field will determine the continuation of operations".

A Hamas official said the declaration of a truce was a defeat for Mr Netanyahu and “a victory to the Palestinian people".

Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas' Arab and Islamic relations bureau, told The Associated Press that the militants would remain on alert until they hear from mediators.

Once Hamas hears from mediators, the group’s leadership will hold discussions and make an announcement, he said.

Heaviest round of fighting since 2014

Within minutes of the announcements, in the countdown to the ceasefire, the sides were trading blows again.

Sirens warned of incoming rockets in Israeli border communities, and a Reuters reporter heard an air strike in Gaza.

There was no immediate word of casualties.

Amid growing global alarm at the bloodshed, US President Joe Biden urged Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday to seek deescalation, while Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations ventured mediation.

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi ordered two security delegations into Israel and the Palestinian Territories to work towards upholding the ceasefire, Egyptian state TV reported.

The agreement would close the heaviest round of fighting between the bitter enemies since a 50-day war in 2014.

Since fighting broke out on May 10, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network.

Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted.

An explosion is seen among buildings and powerlines.
Since fighting broke out on May 10, Israel has launched hundreds of air strikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure.(

ABC News

)

At least 230 Palestinians have been killed, including 65 children and 39 women, with 1,710 people wounded, according to the Gaza Health Ministry, which does not break the numbers down into fighters and civilians.

Hamas and the militant group Islamic Jihad said at least 20 of their fighters have been killed, while Israel said the number is at least 130. 

Twelve people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy, a 16-year-old girl and a soldier, were killed.

Rocket attacks by Hamas and allied Islamic Jihad had resumed after an eight-hour pause earlier on Thursday, as Israel continued shelling that it said aimed to destroy the factions' military capabilities and deter them from future confrontation after the current conflict.

Israeli military
An Israeli artillery unit fires toward targets in Gaza.(

AP: Tsafrir Abayov

)

AP/Reuters

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2021-05-20 19:08:40Z
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