Tel Aviv, Gaza According to Egyptian security circles, Israel and militant Palestinians have agreed on a ceasefire after days of heavy fighting in the Gaza Strip. This should come into force on Sunday evening, a representative of the Egyptian security apparatus told the Reuters news agency. The Palestinian side said the ceasefire would begin at 8 p.m. local time. Spokesmen for the Israeli government and Islamic Jihad initially did not confirm this. One is in contact with Cairo, it was only said.
Egyptian mediators had proposed a ceasefire. Another hot spot had previously emerged: Several Jews were praying on the grounds of the al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem, in violation of Israeli and Muslim regulations. Palestinians protested against it.
Since Friday, Islamic Jihad has primarily aimed rockets at southern Israel. These are the most serious clashes in over a year. They follow an Israeli special operation against Islamic Jihad in Gaza on Friday, which Israel said killed Tayseer al-Jaabari, a top commander.
Palestinian militants also fired rockets towards Jerusalem on Sunday. There were no reports of casualties or damage on the Israeli side. However, the new and more distant target showed the escalation on the third day of mutual attacks. Chaled Mansur, a second senior commander of the militant Islamic Jihad, was killed in an Israeli airstrike in the south of the Gaza Strip on Sunday night.
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Rocket alert in Jerusalem
Sirens wailed in several communities about five kilometers west of Jerusalem on Sunday morning. An Israeli military spokesman said the missiles were intercepted in mid-air. Islamic Jihad said the organization had launched rocket attacks on Jerusalem in retaliation for the killing of Mansur, their commander in southern Gaza.
“In the past few days, Mansur has been working on preparing an attack on Israel with an anti-tank missile and rockets,” the Israeli military said in a statement. He is also responsible for terrorist attacks in the past.
The jihad then swore revenge: “The blood of the martyrs will not be wasted, and the holy warriors will not let that blood dry until they have bombarded the enemy’s settlements with their rockets.”
According to Palestinian sources, around 30 people were killed in the Israeli attacks, including six children. At least a third of the dead are civilians. 203 people were injured on Friday and Saturday. According to information from the rescue service, there were no reports of seriously injured people in Israel.
Protest against praying Jews on Al-Aqsa Mosque grounds
An escalation also threatened in Jerusalem. There, Jews broke long-established regulations and worshiped on the grounds of Al-Aqsa Mosque, where Jewish shrines once stood. Videos circulating on the internet showed the police stepping in to stop the believers. Palestinians protested against the Jewish prayers on mosque grounds. The mosque sits atop one of the most controversial holy sites in the Middle East. The Jews refer to it as the Temple Mount. It is the third holiest site for Muslims after Mecca and Medina.
Only Muslim services are allowed on the mosque grounds, Jews are not allowed to pray there. Some did it anyway to commemorate Tisha B’Aw, the day of mourning for ancient temples. The two on the site of Al-Aqsa Mosque were already destroyed in ancient times.
Foreign Office condemns rocket fire
The Foreign Office in Berlin was concerned about the development. “We condemn in the strongest possible terms the rocket attacks on Israeli towns and cities,” a spokeswoman said, calling for an immediate end. “Israel, like any other state, can invoke the right to self-defense. Civilians must never be the target of attacks.
It is now important to prevent further escalation and to maintain the greatest possible restraint and the proportionality required under international law, emphasized the Foreign Office spokeswoman. “We mourn with the relatives of the civilian victims and our thoughts are with everyone who fears for the life and health of their loved ones at this time.”
More: Violence between Israel and Islamic Jihad group escalates