An Israeli military operation in the Gaza Strip that sparked a round of rocket fire and retaliatory air strikes appears to have been quieted after both sides agreed to an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.
Hamas said in a statement that “the Egyptian efforts have resulted in re-enforcing the ceasefire with the Israeli occupation.” The statement thanked “the efforts of Egypt, Qatar, Norway, and UN exerted to stop the Israeli attack.”
The Israeli government also signed on to the agreement. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas “begged” for truce.
“At these times leadership is not doing the easy thing, but the right thing, even if it is hard,” Netanyahu reportedly said.
Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who described the cease-fire as “a capitulation to terror,” announced his resignation on Wednesday in protest.
Al-Jazeera reports the cease-fire set off celebrations in Gaza, “with hundreds of Palestinians taking to the streets to declare victory.”
The conflict began on Sunday, when Israeli special forces entered the town of Khan Younis in the Gaza Strip. A firefight erupted that left seven Palestinians and one Israeli dead, and dozens on both sides injured.
Hamas said the Israelis shot at Palestinians who “tried to thwart the attack” and called the operation an “assassination of a senior leader.” The operation “was not intended to kill or abduct terrorists, but to strengthen Israeli security,” an Israeli spokesperson said.
The operation was followed by the launching of some 400 rockets from Gaza into southern Israel, according to Israel’s military, which says it intercepted about 100 of them with its Iron Dome defense system.
The Israeli military says its air strikes hit more than 100 militant positions in the Gaza Strip.
An Israeli officer was killed in the cross-border barrage, Israeli Defense Forces said. “The citizens of Israel owe him a huge debt,” Netanyahu said.
Nour Baraka, a 37-year-old local Palestinian commander, was killed, along with six other Palestinians. Five were affiliated with Hamas and one was a member of the Popular Resistance Committees, Reuters reported.
The only person to die in Israel’s border was a Palestinian man from the West Bank, who was killed in the city of Ashkelon.
The Gaza health ministry says that 25 people have been injured. Israeli emergency medical services say it has treated 55 people, reports Naomi Zeveloff for NPR from Tel Aviv.