Some 900 operatives from Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian terror groups were killed in the Gaza Strip in the four weeks of fighting, since Operation Protective Edge was launched by the IDF on July 8, a senior Israeli military source said Tuesday.
The source added that the Israel Air Force hit a total of 4,800 targets in the Palestinian enclave.
Health officials in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip say that close to 1,900 Palestinians have been killed since the fighting began, most of them civilians and many of them children. Palestinian rights groups have claimed that 84 percent of those killed in the conflict were civilians; Israel disputes those claims. Israel has blamed Hamas for the deth and destruction in Gaza, since it emplaced its rockets, rocket launchers, cross-border tunnel openings and other military infrastructure in homes, schools and mosques, and thus used Gazans as human shields.
Earlier Tuesday, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Peter Lerner said the army had completed its mission of destroying 32 of Hamas’s attack tunnels that cross from the Strip into Israeli territory.
By 8 a.m. on Tuesday morning, the Israeli military had withdrawn all of its ground troops from Gaza, as an Egyptian backed, 72-hour humanitarian ceasefire came into effect.
The war in Gaza has claimed the lives of 64 soldiers, 11 of whom were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from tunnels dug under the Gaza-Israel border, and three civilians on the Israeli side. Over 3,000 rockets have been launched at Israeli cities in the month-long conflict.
On Monday, Jerusalem accepted the Egyptian-proposed ceasefire. An Israeli diplomatic official said Israel had agreed to the ceasefire with no preconditions, noting that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had been waiting until all Hamas tunnels used to infiltrate into Israel had been destroyed.
“Israel accepts the wording of the Egyptian ceasefire proposal,” the official said.
The diplomat said Israel would respond if the truce were broken, as past ceasefires have been.
“We are ready for the possibility that the ceasefire will be broken. In that case, we will act accordingly,” the official said.
The announcement came after a day of talks in Cairo among Palestinian delegations, including from Hamas and Islamic Jihad. Israel had boycotted the meeting, since it does not negotiate with groups that it considers terroristic.
Joshua Davidovich and Raphael Ahren contributed to this report