Egypt has reportedly managed to broker a cease-fire between Israel and Gaza, which have been plunging deeper into cross-border violence since an attack Thursday on southern Israel.
Hamas says Palestinian militants in Gaza have agreed to a truce in the recent round of violence with Israel.
“Hamas is keen on maintaining the period of calm that has prevailed in the Gaza Strip in the past few months,” a Hamas official was quoted as saying by the Associated Press. He also stressed that Hamas did not participate in the recent missile attacks on Israel.
The statement comes as a result of intensive talks between Egyptian authorities and representatives of various Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad. The talks which took place on Sunday were supposed to bring the cease-fire into effect later on Sunday, Reuters reported.
But after 9 p.m. local time, missiles were still being fired at the cities of Sderot and Ashkelon in southern Israel, the Jerusalem Post reported.
Moreover, the Popular Resistance Committees, which lost several of its leaders in an Israeli air strike on Friday, said it “won’t stop the resistance.“
Besides inter-Palestinian talks, Egyptian officials mediated the cease-fire talks between Israel and representatives of Islamic Jihad and Hamas, Reuters reported. An unidentified high-ranking Israeli envoy arrived in Cairo on Sunday, a source in the airport told the news agency.
The new round of conflict between Israel and the Palestinians flared up on Thursday, when unnamed terrorists ambushed vehicles in the southern Israeli city of Eilat, which borders on Egypt. Eight Israelis were killed in the attack.
In retaliation, Israel has carried out multiple air strikes on militant targets in Gaza over the past few days, killing at least 15 Palestinians. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the strikes “will continue for as long as necessary.”
Gaza, in turn, has responded with heavy shelling of southern Israel, resulting in the death of one Israeli. On Sunday alone, over 30 rockets struck Israel, including a Grad-model Katyusha that hit an empty high school in Beersheba and caused extensive damage.
On Saturday, exasperated by Israel’s continuing air strikes, Hamas said it would withdraw its commitment to a more than two-year de-facto ceasefire with Israel.