Egypt-mediated truce with Israel in force in Gaza: Islamic Jihad

Reuters Jerusalem Nov 14, 2019, 10.18 AM(IST)

Israeli missile launched from the Iron Dome defence missile system Photograph:( AFP )

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The worst surge in fighting around the Palestinian enclave was sparked on Tuesday when Israel killed Islamic Jihad's top Gaza field commander in an air strike.

Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said an Egyptian-mediated truce with Israel was in force in the Gaza Strip as of 0330 GMT on Thursday, and a Reuters witness confirmed that fighting had subsided.

An Islamic Jihad official told Reuters that Israel had agreed to the faction's demand that it cease targeted killings of militants and shooting of Gaza border protesters. There was no immediate confirmation of this from Israeli officials.

The worst surge in fighting around the Palestinian enclave was sparked on Tuesday when Israel killed Islamic Jihad's top Gaza field commander in an air strike, accusing him of masterminding a spree of recent attacks and planning more soon.

As Islamic Jihad fighters responded with hundreds of rocket launches that reached as far as Tel Aviv and paralysed parts of Israel, it pressed the aerial barrage on the Gaza Strip.

In his first public comments on the fighting, Islamic Jihad leader Zeyad al-Nakhala said a truce could be agreed immediately if Israel accepted the Iranian-backed faction's terms.

These included Israel ending targeted killings of militants, its sometimes lethal response to weekly Gaza protests and steps to ease its blockade on the coastal Palestinian enclave, al-Nakhala, who is based in Beirut, told Al-Mayadeen TV.

Israel signalled openness only to a quid-pro-quo restraint.

"Quiet will be answered with quiet," Israel's Army Radio quoted an unnamed Israeli government official as saying. "Islamic Jihad wants a ceasefire, and it is thus trying to create a false impression of achievements."

Hamas, in turn, has voiced solidarity with Islamic Jihad but has not claimed responsibility for any of the rocket launches.