Hamas and other Palestinian factions fighting in the Gaza Strip agreed on Tuesday to observe a 24-hour truce in the coastal enclave, with Hamas political chief Khaled Mashaal personally granting his approval.
Senior PLO executive committee member Yasser Abed Rabbo said the Palestinian leadership, along with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, were willing to implement a one-day ceasefire in the war-torn Gaza Strip.
“After consultations between the Palestinian leadership and the leadership of Hamas and Islamic Jihad, we declare our readiness for a humanitarian truce of 24 hours,” he said.
Abed Rabbo’s announcement came on the heels of efforts by UN envoy Robert Serry to secure a longer, 72-hour ceasefire. Serry’s proposal for an extended truce was rejected by Hamas, which agreed to a one-day ceasefire only.
Israel has yet to respond to the ceasefire announcement. But Serry’s push for a 2- or 3-day ceasefire was driven by the need to bring Israeli and Palestinian delegations to the negotiating table, to discuss the Egyptian framework for a ceasefire during a lull in the fighting.
It was not clear when the ceasefire would go into effect.
As per the Egyptian framework, once the fighting stops, Israeli and Palestinian envoys will meet in Cairo to discuss the demands of all the Palestinian organizations within the PLO, including Hamas and the Islamic Jihad movement.
On Monday, The Times of Israel revealed that Hamas had agreed to consider the Egyptian framework, and even to send a delegation to Cairo.
Tuesday’s announcement that the Palestinian factions had agreed to a temporary truce came after a night of intense Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip, just after an infiltration killed 5 IDF soldiers.
According to the IDF spokesman’s office, Israeli forces targeted more than 70 sites in the Gaza Strip overnight Monday.
Targets included two Hamas command-and-control centers, four weapon storage sites inside mosques, a rocket launcher, and one attack tunnel.
Israel also attacked other branches of Hamas, including its treasury and propaganda wings, and the house of its leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, in the Shati refugee camp.
Gazans reported intense Israeli strikes across the Palestinian enclave all night; on Tuesday morning, the Islamic Jihad movement in Gaza announced that Ahmed Najam Abu Hamda, the commander of its forces in Rafah, had also been killed.
Palestinian reports said 32 people were killed overnight Monday amid airstrikes that hit 150 targets in Gaza. The 21-day war has killed more than 1,030 Palestinians, mainly civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry, of whom the Israeli army says hundreds were gunmen. Israel has lost 53 soldiers, as well as two Israeli civilians and a Thai worker killed by rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza, according to the Israeli military. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen infiltrating through tunnels.
Meanwhile, rockets were still being launched at Israel from the Gaza Strip throughout Tuesday, and sirens were heard on occasion.
Over the past day, 25 rockets were fired at Israel.
In Gaza Tuesday, hundreds of Palestinians were seen leaving their homes after the IDF warned residents of five areas to flee and take refuge in central Gaza City.
UN statistics published Monday show 215,000 Palestinians have already fled their homes, with 170,461 staying in 82 of the agency’s schools.
Meanwhile Tuesday, a senior IDF officer said that Operation Protective Edge has achieved the target goals that were laid out at the start of the campaign.
“We have reached the goals that were defined for us,” the unnamed officer said in media reports. “The political leadership needs to take a decision if we are going in further or pulling out of the Gaza Strip.”
At the start of the ground operation two weeks ago, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared the objective was to destroy dozens of terror tunnels dug by Hamas under the Israel-Gaza border and to achieve a prolonged period of quiet.