Israel on Thursday announced a ceasefire in the bruising 11-day war against Hamas militants that caused widespread destruction in the Gaza Strip and brought life in much of Israel to a standstill.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office announced the ceasefire after a late-night meeting of his Security Cabinet. It said the group had unanimously accepted an Egyptian proposal, though the sides were still determining exactly when it was to take effect.

Senior defense officials, including the military chief of staff and national security adviser, recommended accepting the proposal after claiming “great accomplishments” in the operation, the statement said.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that “the reality in the field will determine the continuation of operations.”

A senior Hamas figure claimed victory in the conflict with Israel Friday in a speech to thousands of people celebrating in Gaza City after a ceasefire came into place.

“This is the euphoria of victory,” said Khalil al-Hayya, the second most senior member of the Islamist movement’s political bureau in the Gaza Strip. He also promised to reconstruct homes destroyed by Israeli air strikes.

An Israeli soldier walks at a staging ground near the border with the Gaza Strip, in southern Israel, Thursday, May 20, 2021. (AP Photo/Maya Alleruzzo)

The ceasefire brokered by Egypt, that also included Gaza’s second-most powerful armed group, Islamic Jihad, was agreed on Thursday evening and came into force on Friday after international pressure to stem the bloodshed which erupted earlier this month.

Israeli strikes on Gaza since May 10 have killed 232 Palestinians, including 65 children, as well as fighters, and have wounded another 1,900, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Vast areas have been reduced to rubble and about 120,000 people have been displaced, according to Hamas authorities.

The Israeli army says Hamas and other Islamist armed groups in Gaza have fired more than 4,300 rockets towards Israel over the course of the conflict, but the overwhelming majority of those headed for populated areas were intercepted by its Iron Dome air defences.


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