The Egyptian mediator said on Sunday that he had obtained Israel’s agreement for a truce with the Islamic Jihad but said he was waiting for a response from the Palestinian armed group, on the 3rd day of hostilities which killed 31 Palestinians including children and fighters in Gaza .
The powerful Islamic Jihad, based in the Palestinian enclave of Gaza, confirmed “ongoing negotiations at the highest level for a truce”. He did not indicate whether he accepted it or not but warned that “the resistance will not stop if the aggression and the crimes of the occupation do not stop”.
On Sunday, for the first time since hostilities began on Friday, Islamic Jihad claimed to have fired rockets towards Jerusalem. But like 97% of the 585 rockets launched from Gaza according to the Israeli army, they were intercepted by the Israeli anti-missile shield.
Israeli strikes have continued on the Gaza Strip, particularly on the city of Rafah in the south of this territory under the control of the armed Islamist group Hamas and under Israeli blockade for more than 15 years.
“The Israeli side has accepted the truce,” said a security official in Egypt, a historic intermediary between Israel and armed groups in Gaza.
The Israeli army said it launched a “preemptive attack” against Islamic Jihad on Friday, killing several of its fighters and “neutralizing” its main military leaders in Gaza, Tayssir Al-Jabari and Khaled Mansour.
Their death was confirmed by the Islamic Jihad, considered “terrorist” by Israel, the United States and the European Union.
“Every Martyr’s Day”
According to the Ministry of Health in Gaza, 31 Palestinians including six children have died and 275 have been injured since Friday in the Gaza Strip.
Israeli authorities dispute this assessment and claim that Palestinian children were killed on Saturday by a failed rocket attack from Islamic Jihad towards Israel.
In Israel, two people have been slightly injured by rocket fire since Friday, according to rescuers.
Sunday morning, sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area, alerting to rocket fire, intercepted according to the Israeli army.
At the time of the shooting, hundreds of Israelis had begun to gather in the Old City in East Jerusalem for a Jewish holiday. Jewish nationalists went to the esplanade of the Mosques, the third holiest site in Islam but also the holiest site in Judaism called Temple Mount. East Jerusalem is occupied and annexed by Israel.
“The resistance” is “united in battle” against Israel, assured Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for Hamas, who has not so far taken part in the ongoing hostilities.
This confrontation is the worst since that between Israel and the armed organizations of Gaza in May 2021, which killed 260 Palestinians in 11 days, including fighters and 14 dead in Israel, including a soldier, according to local authorities.
“Every day we wake up with martyrs, children and women,” said Abu Mahmoud al-Madhoun, 56, in Gaza on Sunday. “Every moment an apartment or a house is destroyed, people are killed, injured or displaced.”
Israeli Prime Minister Yair Lapid said the operation in Gaza would continue “as long as necessary”, calling the strike that killed Khaled Mansour on Saturday an “extraordinary result”.
The strike in Rafah killed eight people, according to Gaza’s interior ministry. Residential buildings have been destroyed in Israeli raids, according to Hamas.
Before the launch of the Israeli operation, the army had arrested on August 1 an Islamic Jihad leader in the West Bank, Palestinian territory occupied by Israel since 1967.
The Israeli authorities justified their first strikes Friday on Gaza by their fears of reprisals from Gaza. Some 40 members of the group have been arrested in the past two days in the West Bank.
Mohammed Abou Salmiya, director of the Chifa hospital in Gaza, said the wounded were arriving “every minute” at the hospital, and underlined “the urgency of opening the borders to bring in medicine and fuel for the electricity”.
Gaza’s only power plant was closed on Saturday due to a lack of fuel, four days after Israel closed crossings with the enclave citing security concerns.