Israel and Hamas agree ceasefire to end 11-day conflict that has claimed over 200 lives

·2-min read

Watch: Israel and Hamas agree to ceasefire to end bloody 11-day war

The Israeli Security Cabinet has approved a ceasefire to end the 11-day military offensive in the Gaza Strip.

The news, first reported in the local media, was announced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office on Thursday evening.

A Hamas official confirmed the agreement, telling the Reuters news agency that the truce would start at 2am on Friday (11pm GMT).

Since May 10, the bombardment in Gaza has killed 227 people, including 64 children, and injured 1,620 people, in addition to leaving thousands homeless, Palestinian authorities said. Twelve Israelis have also been killed in the violence, which has seen hundreds of rockets fired from Gaza into Israel.

An official from the Palestinian militant Hamas group claimed Israel’s declaration of a ceasefire represented a defeat for Mr Netanyahu and “a victory to the Palestinian people”.

Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’ Arab and Islamic relations bureau, told The Associated Press that the militants will remain on alert until they hear from mediators who have been working for days between Hamas and Israel.

<p>A Palestinian man walks past a building destroyed by Isreali shelling in Gaza City</p> (AFP via Getty Images)

A Palestinian man walks past a building destroyed by Isreali shelling in Gaza City

(AFP via Getty Images)

The White House had earlier described reports of the imminent ceasefire in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict as encouraging, even as Israel threatened to step up strikes on Gaza.

Diplomatic efforts for a ceasefire gathered pace on Thursday after US President Joe Biden urged Mr Netanyahu yesterday to seek “de-escalation”.

A Hamas political official, Moussa Abu Marzouk, said he believed a ceasefire would be reached “within a day or two”.

An Egyptian security source - whose country has been mediating between the sides - said they had agreed in principle to a mutual halt in hostilities but details needed to be worked out.

“We have seen reports of a move toward a potential ceasefire. That's clearly encouraging,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told a regular news briefing.

“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.

“So that's why in part that we feel they're in a position to start winding their operation down,” she said.

Rocket attacks on Israel stopped for eight hours on Thursday - the 11th day of hostilities - before resuming against communities near the Gaza border and the city of Beersheba.

Israel continued air strikes in Hamas-run Gaza, saying it wanted to destroy the Islamist militant group's capabilities and deter it from future confrontation after the current conflict.

Hamas, regarded by the West as a terrorist organization, has not been part of the mainstream Palestine Liberation Organization's engagement with Israel, which led to interim peace deals in the 1990s and the establishment of limited Palestinian self-rule in the occupied West Bank.

Additional reporting by the Reuters news agency.

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