A fragile ceasefire to end nearly three days of fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza that has been held all night and Monday morning — a sign that the latest round of violence may have abated.
The flare-up was the worst fighting between Israel-Gaza militant groups since Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers waged an 11-day war last year, adding to the destruction and misery that have plagued the blocked Gaza Strip for years.
Since Friday, Israeli planes have fired on targets in Gaza as the Iranian-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.
During three days of fighting, 43 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women, and 311 were injured, the Palestinian health ministry said. Israel said some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.
Israel said Monday it was partially reopening Gaza border crossings for humanitarian needs and would open them fully if calm was maintained.
The lives of hundreds of thousands of Israelis were disrupted during the violence. Security measures imposed on residents of southern Israel in recent days were gradually lifted on Monday, the military said.
The violence threatened to turn into another all-out war, but was eventually curtailed as Gaza’s ruling Hamas group remained on the sidelines, possibly fearing Israeli reprisals and the reversal of economic agreements with Israel, including Israeli work permits. for thousands of Gazans. strengthening its control over the coastal strip.
Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since the group captured the area in 2007.
Israel launched its operation with an attack on an Islamic Jihad leader on Friday and said there were “concrete threats” of an anti-tank missile attack on Israelis in response to the arrest last week of another senior Islamic Jihad member in the West Bank. . That arrest came after months of Israeli raids on the West Bank to detain suspects following a spate of Palestinian attacks on Israel.
It killed another Islamic Jihad leader on Saturday in a strike.
Israel said some of the deaths in this round were caused by errant rocket fire, including an incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza that killed six Palestinians on Saturday. On Sunday, a projectile hit a house in the same area of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it is investigating whether the area was hit by an errant missile.
In the occupied West Bank, Israeli forces on Monday destroyed the homes of two Palestinians suspected of carrying out a deadly attack on Israelis in the city of Elad in May. The soldiers faced violent protest during the operation, the army said.
The eruption of violence in Gaza was a major test for Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who has no experience leading military operations. Yet he unleashed the offensive less than three months before a general election in which he is campaigning to keep the job.
President Joe Biden said he welcomes the ceasefire between Israel and militants in Gaza.
“For the past 72 hours, the United States has been working with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan and others across the region to encourage a swift resolution of the conflict,” he said in a statement on Sunday. .
The UN Security Council is due to hold an emergency meeting on Monday to discuss the violence. China, which will chair the council this month, has scheduled the meeting in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents the Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.
“We underline our commitment to do everything possible to end the ongoing escalation, to ensure the safety and security of the civilian population and to follow up on the file of Palestinian detainees,” said the Special Coordinator of the UN for the Middle East Peace Process, Tor Wennesland. , in a statement.
The Israeli military said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets at Israel. The military said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, firing two of those shot at Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.
Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction but have different priorities, with Hamas being constrained by the demands of the administration.
Hamas had a strong incentive to avoid another war. Last year’s war between Israel and Hamas, one of four major conflicts, and several minor battles over the past 15 years have taken a dizzying toll on the impoverished area’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
In the past year, Israel and Hamas have made tacit agreements based on calm on work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt when Hamas conquered the area 15 years ago. Israel has issued 12,000 work permits to workers in Gaza and has offered the prospect of granting another 2,000 permits.