Israel and Gaza reach ceasefire agreement; 23 Palestinians, 4 Israelis killed

JK Bank

To end a surge of violence in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel , Palestinian officials said a ceasefire agreement has been reached with Israel

At least least 23 Palestinians and four Israelis have been killed .

Gaza officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that a deal was reached at 1:30 GMT, and no Israeli air raids on the Palestinian territory have been reported since the deal came into effect.

The officials said Egypt and Qatar helped mediate an end to days of attacks between Gaza and Israel.

There was no confirmation from the Israeli side. However, the Israeli army early on Monday lifted all protective restrictions imposed near the Gaza area during the weekend’s flare-up.

The Home Front Command instructed residents of the south to return to their routines. Schools and kindergartens in the area were allowed to open though some decided to remain closed.

The Israeli Transportation Ministry announced that all public bus routes in the south would return to full and normal operation. The railway line between the cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba was also set to resume later in the morning.

An Islamic Jihad official, on condition of anonymity, told Al-Jazeera that the truce agreement was based on Israel easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Among the steps, he said, were the easing of limits on the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.

An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal on condition of anonymity.

The flare-up was the most serious clash between the two sides since a spate of fighting in November.

A 34-year-old Hamas commander was killed on Sunday in what the Israeli military described as a targeted strike.

An army statement accused Hamad al-Khodori of “transferring large sums of money” from Iran to armed factions in Gaza.

Other Palestinian victims included two pregnant women and three infants.

In the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a 58-year-old Israeli man was killed after being struck by shrapnel from a rocket attack. Two other Israelis, critically wounded in a separate rocket attacks on a factory on Sunday afternoon, later died.

Around two million Palestinians live in Gaza, the economy of which has suffered years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ West Bank-based rival.

Israel said its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since the group seized control of Gaza in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew its settlers and troops from the area.


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