Israel and the Palestinians agree on a ceasefire within the Gaza Strip beginning Sunday night

GAZA/JERUSALEM, Aug 7 (Reuters) – Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad militant group agreed on a Cairo-brokered ceasefire to take effect late Sunday, both sides said, raising hopes of an end to the hardest Flare-up of the Gaza Strip Gaza border in more than a year.

All weekend since Friday, Israeli forces have been bombing Palestinian targets and unleashing longer-range rocket attacks against their cities.

The ceasefire would take effect at 23:30 (20:30 GMT), Islamic Jihad and the Israeli government said in separate statements.

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The latest clashes echo preludes to previous Gaza wars, although they have been relatively contained in the absence of Hamas, the ruling Islamist group in Gaza and a more powerful force than Iran-backed Islamic Jihad.

Gaza Strip officials said 43 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians including children, have been killed so far. The rockets have threatened much of southern Israel, sending residents in cities including Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to shelters.

Streaks of light can be seen as Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepts rockets fired towards Israel from the Gaza Strip, as seen from Ashkelon, Israel August 7, 2022. REUTERS/Amir Cohen

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Israel on Friday launched so-called preemptive strikes against an Islamic Jihad attack aimed at avenging the arrest of a leader of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, in the occupied West Bank.

In response, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. The group said the ceasefire would include the release of al-Saadi. Israeli officials did not immediately comment.

On Sunday, Islamic Jihad extended its range to fire on Jerusalem in what it said was retaliation for Israel’s overnight assassination of its commander in southern Gaza – the second such senior officer it has lost in the fighting.

Israel said its Iron Dome interceptor, which the army put at a 97% success rate, shot down the missiles west of the city.

Palestinians, dazed by another wave of bloodshed – following outbreaks of war in 2008-09, 2012, 2014 and last year – rummaged through the ruins of houses to salvage furniture or documents.

“Who wants a war? No one. But neither do we like to remain silent when women, children and leaders are being killed,” said a Gaza taxi driver, who identified himself only as Abu Mohammad. “Eye to eye.”

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Additional reporting by Ali Sawafta Ramallah; Dan Williams in Jerusalem and Ahmed Mohamed Hassan in Cairo; writing by Dan Williams; Adaptation by Mark Heinrich, John Stonestreet and Diane Craft

Our standards: The Thomson Reuters Trust Principles.

Nidal Al-Mughrabi

Thomson Reuters

A senior correspondent with nearly 25 years’ experience covering the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including multiple wars and the signing of the first historic peace deal between the two sides.

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