Israel announces unconditional ceasefire after 11 days of fierce battle with Hamas in Gaza

The Israeli security cabinet voted to accept a ceasefire late Thursday as the Israeli south and Gaza remain inflamed.Top world envoys had worked fervently to end the violence while Israel’s security cabinet debated the details of a restoration of calm.

An Egyptian security source – whose country has been mediating between the sides – said they had agreed in principle to a mutual halt in hostilities, but details needed to be worked out.US President Joe Biden spoke with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi of Egypt about ceasefire efforts.    

According to Kan News, Israeli National Security advisor Meir Ben-Shabbat received a proposal for such a restoration of calm from the Egyptians, who along with the UN and others, are working for a truce 11 days after Hamas escalated tensions by shooting rockets at Jerusalem.Before the vote, Israeli government sources would not confirm that a ceasefire was imminent.

Israeli cabinet ministers, other than Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz, went into the security cabinet meeting Thursday evening having heard about a pending ceasefire from foreign media, including Al-Jazeera and BBC, but without having been briefed on the matter.

International efforts to negotiate a ceasefire in Gaza gathered pace on Thursday amid reports that Hamas had predicted a ceasefire could be agreed in the coming days and Israel’s security cabinet would be voting on a proposal to halt attacks within 24 hours.ADVERTISING

Israeli leaders convened Thursday to consider halting a Gaza offensive, a day after US President Joe Biden called for a de-escalation of the fiercest hostilities in years.

Biden on Wednesday urged Netanyahu to seek “de-escalation” while a Hamas political official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said he believed a ceasefire could be reached “within a day or two”.

A senior Hamas official told AFP: “We expect a return to calm in the coming hours, or tomorrow, but it depends on the cessation of the aggression of the occupation forces in Gaza and Jerusalem.”

“But there is nothing definitive for the moment,” added the source, indicating that Qatar, an emirate that hosts Haniyeh and sends financial aid to Gaza, was at the heart of “intense” negotiations. 

UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric confirmed that UN Middle East Envoy Tor Wennesland is in Qatar, adding: “We are actively engaged with all the relevant parties for an immediate ceasefire.”

With Cairo mediating between the sides, an Egyptian security source said they had agreed in principle to a ceasefire but details needed to be worked out.

After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security cabinet, public broadcaster Kan said it would vote on a proposal to halt attacks unilaterally within 24 hours.

There was no immediate Israeli confirmation of the Kan report. Rocket attacks by Hamas and allied Islamic Jihad resumed after an eight-hour pause 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.

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