As of 10:30 p.m., the weapons were supposed to be silent: Immediately before a ceasefire came into effect, the Israeli army said it had shelled a “large number of targets” in the Gaza Strip.
Most recently, there had been the heaviest fighting in about a year. But with the recently agreed ceasefire, there is at least faint hope for an easing of tensions in the Middle East. However, according to the Israeli army, shortly before the cease-fire with the militant Palestinian organization “Islamic Jihad” came into effect, it flew further air strikes on Gaza.
At 11:25 p.m. local time, five minutes before the cease-fire took effect, the army carried out a “final attack,” a spokesman said Sunday night. He thus corrected previous statements according to which the attack had taken place after the cease-fire came into effect.
Israel had bombed targets of the militant Palestinian organization “Islamic Jihad” in the Gaza Strip since Friday. In the process, 44 people were killed and more than 300 others were injured, according to Palestinian sources. In response to the airstrikes, “Islamic Jihad” fired hundreds of rockets toward Israel.
On Sunday, Israel and the “Islamic Jihad”, mediated by Egypt, then agreed on a ceasefire that came into effect at 11:30 p.m. (local time, 10:30 p.m. CEST). However, “Islamic Jihad” stressed its right to respond to any new “aggression” by Israel.
The Israeli government also confirmed an entry into force of the ceasefire as of 11:30 pm. However, Prime Minister Jair Lapid’s office warned, “If the ceasefire is violated, the State of Israel reserves the right to respond harshly.”
The current escalation of violence is the most violent in Gaza since last May. At the time, the radical Islamic Hamas, which has ruled the Gaza Strip since 2007, had fired rockets toward Israel, prompting the Israeli Air Force to bomb targets in the Gaza Strip. During the eleven days of fighting, more than 260 people were killed in the Gaza Strip and 13 were killed in Israel.
Shelling also reported on Jerusalem
The conflict between the Israeli army and Islamists in the Gaza Strip intensified over the weekend. During airstrikes as part of the “Dawn” military operation, the Israeli army also killed the southern commander of “Islamic Jihad,” Chalid Mansur, the military said Sunday.
At the beginning of the military operation, Israel had killed Jihad military chief Taisir al-Jabari and other PIJ members. According to Israeli sources, the “Islamic Jihad” planned to attack with anti-tank missiles in the border area with the Gaza Strip. Israel cordoned off areas on the edge of the coastal strip for several days and raised the alert level. The escalation was preceded by the arrest of a PIJ leader in the West Bank, Bassem Saadi, on Monday.
For the first time in this round of violence, Palestinian militants also fired rockets at Jerusalem. More than 500 rockets have been fired from Gaza since the operation began Friday, according to army figures. By Sunday evening, warning sirens were wailing in numerous cities, including Tel Aviv. Almost all of the projectiles that threatened Israeli residential areas were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.