A ceasefire was agreed between Palestinian armed groups and Israel, according to Al Jazeera, citing unnamed Hamas sources.
The Egyptian-mediated truce between Hamas and Israel went into effect at 22:45 on August 9th, according Al Jazeera, as cited by Ynet. Reuters also cited two unnamed Palestinian officials, who said that an understanding has been reached to end an escalation in fighting. Reuters further cites an unnamed Israeli official who denied that a ceasefire agreement had been reached.
Hamas’ Al-Aqsa TV channel reported that the cease-fire had taken hold “on the basis of mutual calm.” An unnamed Egyptian source told Haaretz that the ceasefire began at 23:00 on August 9th.
An increase in cross-border rocket fire has urged the UN and Egypt to try and mediate a ceasefire to prevent an all-out war.
“Egyptian efforts managed to restore calm between Palestinian factions and Israel that will end the current escalation,” an anonymous Palestinian official was cited by Reuters. “Palestinian factions will respect calm as long as Israel does,” he added.
A second unnamed Palestinian source was also cited by Reuters, he said that the ceasefire would begin at 20:45 on August 9th.
There is currently no official statement from the Palestine or Israeli sides, thus leading to the uncertainty about the hour at which the ceasefire presumably began.
“Upon Egyptian and international efforts, a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance began conditional on the commitment of the occupation,” said Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee, a smaller faction in Gaza on his Facebook page.
Despite no confirmation by an official statement, Israeli security officials, cited by Haaretz, said that the chances of a full-fledged military operation in the Gaza Strip have decreased.
Egypt also said early on August 9th that it has been working with both Hamas and Israel since August 8th to prevent an escalation in the Gaza Strip. According to an unnamed Egyptian source, cited by Haaretz, Cairo is continuing its communication with various actors in order to restore the calm and prevent further flare-ups.
To show the UN’s concern in the matter, the United Nations’ Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, released a statement late night on August 8th. “I am deeply alarmed by the recent escalation, particularly by today’s multiple rockets fired towards communities in southern Israel,” he said. “For months I have been warning that the humanitarian, security and political crisis in Gaza risks a devastating conflict that nobody wants. The UN has engaged with Egypt and all concerned parties in an unprecedented effort to avoid such a development. “Our collective efforts have prevented the situation from exploding until now. If the current escalation, however, is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people,” he continued.
The ceasefire comes after the exchange in rocket fire from both sides, which started on the evening of August 8th and continued into early morning August 9th. The exchange was caused by misunderstanding by Israel Defense Forces which prompted them to fire a tank shell, killing two Hamas soldiers. As a retaliation to the tank fire, Hamas launched rockets, to which Israeli Defense Forces answered with rocket fire of their own.
The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified victims to the Israeli air strikes as 34-year-old Ali Ghandour, 23-year-old Inas Khamash and her 18-month-old daughter, Bayan Khamash. Twelve others were injured, the ministry said.
On Israel’s side a woman was seriously wounded, while two others suffered light injuries as a result of the Hamas launches.
Egypt and the UN’s efforts appear to have achieved success, however until there is an official confirmation by Palestinian and Israel sources, information of the ceasefire may not be confirmed.