The Israeli military lifted protective restrictions on residents in southern Israel on Monday, while Gaza’s ruling Hamas terror group reported a cease-fire deal had been reached to end the deadliest fighting between the two sides since a 2014 war.
4 Israeli civilians were killed in separate rocket attacks. They were the first Israeli fatalities from rocket attacks since the 50-day war in 2014.
The Islamic Jihad terror group, which Israel accused of instigating the latest violence, confirmed that a “mutual and concurrent” truce had been brokered by Egypt. Hamas spokesman Hazem Qassem said Egyptian mediators, along with officials from Qatar and the U.N., helped reach the deal. He said Hamas could still use “different pressuring tools” to pressure Israel into easing a crippling blockade of Gaza it has enforced along with Egypt.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pointedly noted that “the campaign is not over, and it requires patience and judgment.”
The intense fighting over the past two days came to a halt in the early morning hours and residents on both sides went back to their daily routines. The IDF said that as of 7 a.m., “all protective restrictions in the home front will be lifted.”
Schools and roads had been closed, and residents had been encouraged to remain indoors and near bomb shelters as intense rocket fire pounded the area, threatening to devolve into all-out war.
Palestinian terrorists fired nearly SEVEN HUNDRED rockets into Israel, while the IDF responded with airstrikes on some 350 terror targets inside Gaza, including weapons storage, attack tunnels and rocket launching and production facilities.
Palestinian medical officials reported 23 terrorists killed in the retaliatory airstrikes.
It also deployed tanks and infantry forces to the Gaza frontier, and put another brigade on standby. A Hamas commander involved in transferring Iranian funds to the group was killed in an airstrike, in an apparent return to Israel’s policy of “targeting killing” of terror leaders.
Egyptian mediators had been working with the U.N. to broker a cease-fire. Under past Egyptian-brokered deals, Israel has agreed to ease its joint blockade of Gaza with Egypt in exchange for a halt to rocket fire.
The terms of the latest deal were not known, but recent cease-fires have been short-lived.
Even within his own ruling Likud Party, Netanyahu faced unusual criticism for not going further to quash Gaza militants.
Likud lawmaker Gideon Saar wrote on Twitter that the reported cease-fire was not an achievement for Israel. “The timeframes between these violent attacks on Israel and its citizens are getting shorter and the terror groups in Gaza are getting stronger between them,” he wrote.
Benny Gantz, Israel’s emerging opposition leader, also criticized Netanyahu, saying that ending the current round amounted to “another surrender to the extortion of Hamas and the terror organizations.”