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World Israeli cabinet approves cease-fire with Hamas amid 2nd week of violence

23:55  20 may  2021
23:55  20 may  2021 Source:   abcnews.go.com

West Bank erupts in protest amid more Israel-Hamas fighting

  West Bank erupts in protest amid more Israel-Hamas fighting GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) — Turmoil from the battle between Israel and Hamas spilled over into the West Bank on Friday, sparking the most widespread Palestinian protests in years as hundreds of young demonstrators in multiple towns clashed with Israeli troops, who shot and killed at least 11 people. Israel's bombardment of the Gaza Strip continued into early Saturday, when an airstrike on a house in Gaza City killed at least seven Palestinians — the highest number of fatalities in a single hit. That strike came a day after a furious overnight barrage of tank fire and airstrikes that wreaked destruction in some towns, killed a family of six in their house and sent thousands fleeing their homes.

Israeli media reported Thursday that Israel ’s security cabinet had unanimously approved a ceasefire to end the military counteroffensive against terrorists in the Gaza Strip, effective at 2:00 a.m. Friday, local time. But Israel insisted on its right to defend itself, and did so again on Wednesday by responding to rocket fire on their northern border with Lebanon. The Israeli defensive operations have primarily targeted Hamas ’ leadership and infrastructure, “including a vast tunnel network,” the AP notes.

Israeli leaders have approved a cease - fire to end nearly two weeks of combat with Hamas militants who have been launching rocket barrages out of the Gaza Strip since last Monday, according to regional media. Netanyahu had summoned his Security Cabinet for an emergency meeting earlier in the day, and White House Press Secretary Jen Psaki said during a news briefing that talks of a cease - fire were "clearly encouraging." A Hamas official told Reuters that combat along the Gaza Strip border would end at 2 a.m. Friday local time, or 7 p.m. ET Thursday, but Israeli officials stopped short

Israel’s security cabinet has approved a cease-fire with Hamas, the prime minister's office announced Thursday.

The office of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released a statement Thursday evening stating that the Political Security Cabinet accepted a recommendation for a "bilateral cease-fire without any conditions."

"The chief of staff, the military echelon and the head of the Shin Bet reviewed with the ministers Israel's great achievements in the campaign, some of which were unprecedented," the statement read. "The political echelon emphasizes that the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign."

Israel says it will strike more Hamas tunnels running under Gaza homes, rockets fired from Lebanon

  Israel says it will strike more Hamas tunnels running under Gaza homes, rockets fired from Lebanon Israel's artillery forces will strike Lebanese targets in response to rocket attacks from within Lebanon, its military said Wednesday.Hostilities have spilled out into Jerusalem, the West Bank and Israel, as Palestinian protesters striking in solidarity with Gazans clash with Israeli police, some of the protesters throwing rocks while police respond with tear gas. Many of the demonstrators do not support Hamas, but see the protests as acts of resistance against Israel's occupation of Palestinian territories.

Israeli media reported on Thursday that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet had approved the truce, on the basis of what one official was quoted as calling "quiet in exchange for quiet". Hamas official later confirmed that a "mutual and simultaneous" truce with Israel to begin at 2 a.m. on Friday. The Israeli security cabinet met at 1600 GMT to discuss the ceasefire with the Palestinian resistance group Hamas , which rules the illegally blockaded Gaza Strip, official sources told AFP. In the southern Gaza town of Rafah, devastating Israeli air strikes turned buildings into clouds of dust and

The Israeli cabinet has given the green light for negotiating a ceasefire with Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, via Egypt, to put an end to 10 days of rocket strikes on Israel and IDF bombardment of the Gaza Strip. National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat was authorized to start talks with Egypt One Israeli reporter said that a ceasefire of sorts may already be in effect, as no rockets had been fired from Gaza for 90 minutes already. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has previously said that the Israeli operations would continue until the objective of restoring “quiet and security” was achieved

a view of a city with smoke coming out of it © Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images

Hamas, the Palestinian militant group ruling the Gaza Strip, also has agreed to a cease-fire.

Taher Al-Nono, the media adviser to the head of the Hamas political bureau, said in a statement Thursday evening that an "agreement had been reached for a mutual and simultaneous ceasefire in the Gaza Strip."

The cease-fire will begin at 2 a.m. local time, which is 7 p.m. ET. Egypt will send two security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories, Egypt's state news agency MENA said.

There have been mounting calls around the world for both sides to agree to an immediate cease-fire after 11 straight days of fighting between the Israeli military and Hamas.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said Thursday that rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip toward Israel stopped from 1 a .m. to 9 a.m. local time on Thursday, the longest pause since the violence erupted last week. Israel, however, continued its airstrikes on the Gaza Strip unabatedly, saying it wanted to deter Hamas from future attacks.

Biden hails Israel-Hamas cease-fire, sees 'opportunity'

  Biden hails Israel-Hamas cease-fire, sees 'opportunity' WASHINGTON (AP) — President Joe Biden on Thursday hailed the impending cease-fire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying he sees a “genuine opportunity” toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East. Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an “hour by hour” effort to stop the bloodletting. “I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said.

The Israeli security cabinet has approved a unilateral ceasefire to end a military operation in the Gaza Strip after 11 days of fighting. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office announced the ceasefire , and a statement from the cabinet called the truce "mutual and unconditional". Hamas has confirmed that a "mutual and simultaneous" truce with Israel would begin at 2am local time on Friday (midnight UK time). The breakthrough came a day after US President Joe Biden called for a de-escalation, and amid mediation bids by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations.

The Israeli security cabinet will vote on a proposed unilateral ceasefire that would take effect within 24 hours, Israel 's public broadcaster Kan reported. Earlier a senior Hamas official said he expected a ceasefire deal with Israel in "a day or two ", while Mr Netanyahu on Wednesday vowed to continue the military operation until "calm and security are restored". Hamas retaliated with rocket fire . Fighting began in Gaza on 10 May after weeks of rising Israeli -Palestinian tension in occupied East Jerusalem that culminated in clashes at a holy site revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Since last week, at least 232 people -- including 65 children and 39 women -- have been killed by the Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health. About 1,900 others have been wounded.

MORE: Hamas willing to agree to cease-fire with Israel on 2 conditions, senior official says

Meanwhile, at least 10 people -- including a soldier and a 6-year-old child -- were killed by the rocket attacks in Israel, and three others died from critical injuries they suffered on their way to bomb shelters. Another 348 have been injured, according to Magen David Adom, Israel's national emergency service.

In a telephone call Wednesday, U.S. President Joe Biden told Netanyahu that he "expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a cease-fire," according to the White House. But Netanyahu resisted, saying just hours later that he appreciated "the support of the American president" but that his country would push ahead "to restore calm and security" to its citizens.

Cease-fire in Gaza: What we know about the Israel, Hamas agreement

  Cease-fire in Gaza: What we know about the Israel, Hamas agreement What's next after Israel's cease-fire? How many died in the conflict? How did it start? These questions and more answered.The move followed growing pressure from President Joe Biden's administration and others foreign leaders to de-escalate the conflict – which wrought far more devastation in Gaza than Israel and killed significantly more Palestinians. Hamas fired rockets indiscriminately into civilian areas in Israel while Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes.

Israel , however, is not interested, according to an Israeli official with direct knowledge of the matter. "We say to stop prematurely is to give Hamas the victory it wants," the Israeli official told ABC News on Tuesday evening. " Hamas has to come out of this defeated." On Tuesday, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians across Israel , the Gaza Strip, the West Bank -- a landlocked territory bordered by Israel and Jordan -- and the wider Middle East region all stopped work for the day to protest against the Israeli military offensive, violence against Arab Israelis and the looming eviction of Palestinian

Hamas ' remarks came as Israel and Gaza militants continued to pursue their cross-border attacks. "I expect a ceasefire to be reached within a day or two , and the ceasefire will be on the basis of mutual agreement," Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Lebanon's al-Mayadeen TV about reaching a cease - fire . "We've been clear and consistent that we are focused on intensive diplomatic efforts underway to bring an end to the violence and that we will not support actions that we believe undermine efforts to de-escalate," a spokesperson for the US Mission to the UN said. A press statement requires consensus

"I am determined to continue this operation until its aim is met," Netanyahu told reporters Wednesday after visiting the Israeli military headquarters.

a group of people on a rocky beach: Palestinians gather following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 20, 2021. © APAImages via Shutterstock Palestinians gather following an Israeli airstrike in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip on May 20, 2021.

A senior Hamas official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, told Lebanese television channel Al Mayadeen on Wednesday that he expected a mutual cease-fire agreement to be reached "within a day or two."

"I think that the ongoing efforts regarding the cease-fire will succeed," Abu Marzouk said, noting that the agreement would only apply to the Gaza Strip.

MORE: Biden calls for 'significant de-escalation today' in 4th call with Israel's Netanyahu

Dr. Basem Naim, a former Palestinian health minister who is now head of Hamas' international relations council, told ABC News on Tuesday evening that Hamas would accept a mutual cease-fire agreement with the Israeli military on two conditions.

"One, Israeli forces must stop incursions into the Al-Asqa compound and respect the site," Naim said. "Two, Israel must stop the forced evacuation of the Palestinian residents in the Sheikh Jarah neighborhood. This condition is in accordance with international law, not only a condition expected by the Hamas authority."

Hour-by-hour: Biden's behind-the-scenes push for cease-fire

  Hour-by-hour: Biden's behind-the-scenes push for cease-fire The diplomatic flurry was over and Israel's Benjamin Netanyahu was on the phone telling President Joe Biden that it appeared the furious fighting between Israel and Hamas was about to end. But Biden remained wary even after the afternoon phone call. Things still could go crosswise with hours to go before the cease-fire took effect, his team reasoned. Nervous White House aides dialed contacts in Tel Aviv and Cairo to suss out whether the truce would hold. Officials in both the U.S. and Israel worried that another barrage of Hamas rockets still could sink the Egyptian-brokered agreement, according to an official familiar with the conversations.

But Israel was not interested, according to an Israeli official with direct knowledge of the matter.

"We say to stop prematurely is to give Hamas the victory it wants," the Israeli official told ABC News on Tuesday evening. "Hamas has to come out of this defeated."

a city with smoke coming out of it: A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave. © Bashar Taleb/AFP via Getty Images A ball of fire erupts from a building in Gaza City's Rimal residential district on May 20, 2021, during Israeli bombardment on the Hamas-controlled enclave.

Prior to official confirmation of the one-sided truce, there were reports in the Israeli media of an imminent cease-fire but some analysts in the region were skeptical that either side would be willing to lay down their arms. Ghassan Khatib, a former Palestinian cabinet minister who now teaches political science at Birzeit University near Ramallah in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, said it was unlikely because the Israeli prime minister is seeking re-election.

"Within the balances that exist now between Hamas and Israel over the battle, if Netanyahu stops now, Gaza will claim the victory, and the world will say Netanyahu lost," Khatib told ABC News on Thursday. "Netanyahu has political considerations because he is going to the fifth Israeli election soon, and he needs to make it clear he achieved something. So far he did not."

Israel Opposition Leader Yair Lapid Accuses Netanyahu of Jeopardizing Relationship With U.S.

  Israel Opposition Leader Yair Lapid Accuses Netanyahu of Jeopardizing Relationship With U.S. "After 11 days of this operation, every Israeli citizen will ask themselves: What did the government really want to achieve with this military operation? What is its policy and strategic long-term aim concerning Hamas in Gaza?" Lapid wrote.The U.S. has called for Israel to end the fighting and agree to a cease-fire. Netanyahu has refused the requests, and appears determined to inflict maximum damage against Hamas in a war that could save his political career, the Associated Press reported.

"For an Israeli prime minister to end this war, Netanyahu needs an achievement. It's not related to how long this war will last," he added. "For now, he is buying time from the Biden administration by talking about cease-fire but continuing his assault on Gaza."

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing Thursday that the Biden administration believes Israel has seen achievements over the past week and a half.

"Our view is we believe the Israelis have achieved significant military objectives that they laid out to achieve in relation to protecting their people and to responding to the thousands of rocket attacks from Hamas," Psaki said. "And so that's why, in part, that we feel they're in a position to start winding their operation down."

MORE: Top US general monitoring Israel-Hamas conflict in case it spreads to Lebanon

However, Samir Sebehat, a Ramallah-based political expert, was also unconvinced.

"Hamas is not willing to stop the upheaval that is taking place in the West Bank, Jerusalem and among Palestinians inside Israel without any price," Sebehat told ABC News on Thursday. "They feel they are gaining [momentum] and setting the agenda in Israel and Palestine.

a plane flying in the air: Rockets are launched from Gaza City, towards Israel on May 20, 2021. © APAImages via Shutterstock Rockets are launched from Gaza City, towards Israel on May 20, 2021.

Hamas, which gained a majority in the 2006 Palestinian legislative elections and took control of the Gaza Strip in 2007 after battling rival Palestinian forces, has said that its rocket attacks on Israel were in response to the the recent clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police in Jerusalem's Old City outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, one of the holiest sites in Islam, amid growing anger over the potential eviction of dozens of Palestinians.

Israel-Hamas ceasefire holds, Egyptian mediators shuttle between the two sides

  Israel-Hamas ceasefire holds, Egyptian mediators shuttle between the two sides Israel-Hamas ceasefire holds, Egyptian mediators shuttle between the two sidesGAZA/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - A ceasefire between Israel and Hamas-led Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip held on Saturday as Egyptian mediators pressed on with talks with the two sides on securing longer-term calm, officials said.

Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians fled or were displaced from their homes during a war that accompanied Israel's creation in 1948. Some Palestinian refugees were rehoused in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood of east Jerusalem, just outside the Old City, by the Jordanian government in the 1950s -- before Israel captured the city from Jordan during the 1967 war, along with the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Now, several Palestinian families are facing possible eviction from homes on land that Jewish settlers claim they lost to Arabs during the 1948 war. Israeli law allows citizens to take back such land, but it does not allow Palestinians to do the same.

Mass protests against the decades-old legal battle have taken place in and around the Old City in recent weeks. Hundreds of people were injured earlier this month after Israeli police fired tear gas and stun grenades at Palestinian demonstrators who hurled rocks and chairs outside the Al-Aqsa Mosque. Then on May 9, the Israeli Supreme Court decided to delay a ruling on the eviction case by up to 30 days after the attorney general requested more time to review.

MORE: Israel unleashes more airstrikes on Gaza Strip, after deadliest single attack so far

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, a smaller Palestinian militant group, began firing a barrage of rockets toward Israeli territory on the night of May 10. In response, the IDF unleashed airstrikes aimed at what it said were Hamas and other terror targets in the Gaza Strip, a 140-square-mile territory where 2 million Palestinians have lived under a blockade imposed by neighboring Israel and Egypt since Hamas seized power.

The IDF said that Hamas and Islamic Jihad have fired more than 4,070 rockets from the Gaza Strip into southern and central Israel since May 10, of which approximately 610 misfired and exploded inside the Palestinian territory. The rockets were aimed at various Israeli cities, including Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, with some striking multiple homes as well as a school, a hospital and a bus. Israel's air defense system, known as the Iron Dome, has intercepted about 90% of the rocket attacks, according to the IDF.

Hady Amr's Middle East | Opinion

  Hady Amr's Middle East | Opinion The Biden administration cozies up to Hamas.During his media appearance with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that rebuilding Hamas-controlled Gaza in the wake of Hamas' latest assault on Israel is the most pressing issue on the agenda.

a group of people standing in front of a crowd: Palestinians carry the bodies of children killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2021. © Samar Abu Elouf/The New York Times via Redux Palestinians carry the bodies of children killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City, Gaza Strip, on May 15, 2021.

Meanwhile, the Israeli military has conducted over 1,450 airstrikes on the Gaza Strip since last week, according to the Palestinian Ministry of Health, which said the attacks are targeting "densely populated residential areas" and have destroyed more than 1,000 houses and apartments as well as dozens of government buildings, schools, hospitals and businesses. Some 50,000 families have been displaced so far, the health ministry said, warning of overcrowded shelters becoming "a dangerous environment for the rapid spread of COVID-19."

Unlike Israel, the Gaza Strip has no air raid sirens or bomb shelters. The IDF has said it warns people to evacuate before striking targets in civilian areas.

MORE: Civilians pay the price during worst Israel-Hamas fighting since 2014

However, human rights watchdog Amnesty International said it has documented four deadly attacks by the Israeli military launched on homes without prior warning and is calling for the International Criminal Court to urgently investigate. The London-based organization said the attacks "may amount to war crimes or crimes against humanity."

"Although the Israeli military has given no explanation of what military objectives it was targeting in these attacks, it is hard to imagine how bombing residential buildings full of civilian families without warning could be considered proportionate under international humanitarian law," Saleh Hijazi, Amnesty International's deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, said in a statement Monday. "By carrying out these brazen deadly attacks on family homes without warning, Israel has demonstrated a callous disregard for lives of Palestinian civilians who are already suffering the collective punishment of Israel’s illegal blockade on Gaza since 2007."

The IDF said its airstrikes have hit hundreds of terror targets in the Gaza Strip, including rocket launch sites in civilian areas, attack tunnels along the border, weapons storage facilities, several homes purportedly belonging to Hamas officials and a number of high-rise buildings in Gaza City that Israeli officials alleged were used by Hamas' military wing. Among the targets was a building that housed offices of the Associated Press, Al-Jazeera and other media outlets.

a group of people standing on top of a mountain: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Jenin, on May 18, 2021. © Oday Daibes/APAImages via Polaris Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli soldiers in the West Bank city of Jenin, on May 18, 2021.

While both sides continued trading airstrikes and rockets, Palestinians across Israel, the Gaza Strip and the West Bank -- a landlocked territory bordered by Israel and Jordan -- have been protesting against the ongoing Israeli military offensive, violence against Arab Israelis and the looming eviction of Palestinian families in east Jerusalem. Clashes between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police have turned deadly in the West Bank, with a total of 28 Palestinians killed and more than 1,400 injured, according the Palestinian Ministry of Health.

Brig. Gen. Ismail Qaani, commander of the elite Quds Force of Iran's Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, sent a letter to Hamas' military chief on Thursday lavishing praise on the "resistance and resilience" of Palestinians and vowing Iranian support for them. Qaani said his country would stick to a promise made by his predecessor, Qassem Soleimani --who was killed in a U.S. airstrike approved by then-President Donald Trump in January 2020 -- that "we will never leave Palestine on its own no matter how the pressure and siege intensify."

"The enemy knows well that Palestine is now not alone and that it has the backing of a growing resistance axis," Qaani said in the letter. "We will never back off unless those usurpers and oppressors are demised."

MORE: Palestinian rapper living in Israel says he's 'scared for his life' amid violence

The United States deployed a delegation to the Middle East to meet with leaders from both sides amid fears that the Israeli military would launch a ground invasion of the Gaza Strip.

Israel and the United States, Israel's closest ally, both consider Hamas a terrorist organization. The Islamic militant group aims to establish an independent Palestinian state that includes parts of modern-day Israel.

Palestinians want to include the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in their future state, with east Jerusalem as their eventual capital. The U.S. government has voiced support for a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, which would create an independent Israel and Palestine. However, Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel's capital in 2017 and relocated the U.S. embassy there from Tel Aviv in 2018, a controversial move that was welcomed by Israelis and condemned by Palestinians.

ABC News' Katherine Faulders, Conor Finnegan, Ben Gittleson, Matt Gutman, Hatem Maher, Jordana Miller, Bruno Nota, Becky Perlow, Christine Theodorou and Sami Zayra contributed to this report.

Hady Amr's Middle East | Opinion .
The Biden administration cozies up to Hamas.During his media appearance with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem on Tuesday, Secretary of State Antony Blinken indicated that rebuilding Hamas-controlled Gaza in the wake of Hamas' latest assault on Israel is the most pressing issue on the agenda.

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