Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire on Gaza conflict

Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire on Gaza conflict

Palestinians inspect a site affected in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021.

Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images

WASHINGTON – Israel’s security cabinet voted on Thursday to approve an interim ceasefire after 11 days of fighting with Hamas in Israel and the Gaza Strip.

Hamas official confirms ‘mutual and simultaneous’ truce with Israel to begin at 2 a.m. on Friday

The White House is expected to respond to the news shortly.

The news comes on the heels of a call Wednesday between President Joe Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During that call, Biden said he expected a “significant de-escalation” in the violence, according to the White House reading of the call.

It was their fourth conversation since violence erupted between Israel and Hamas last week.

The tenor from Washington to Tel Aviv has grown increasingly impatient in recent days, as the death toll in Gaza from Israeli airstrikes has surpassed 200, including more than 100 women and children. In Israel, 12 people were killed by rockets fired by Hamas on Thursday afternoon.

The latest round of fighting marked the worst outbreak of violence since the war between Israel and Hamas in 2014.

The White House has pursued a strategy of what it calls “silent and intensive diplomacy” behind the scenes.

“We have had more than 60 calls, from the president, with senior leaders of Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other leaders in the region” since the start of the conflict, said Karine Jean-Pierre, White House Deputy Senior Press Secretary. told reporters on Wednesday.

“The president has been doing this for a long time, for decades he thinks this is the approach we need to take,” she added.

A demolished 6-story building in the Al-Rimal neighborhood contains libraries, youth centers, training for university students and a mosque that was bombed by Israeli planes during raids in Gaza City, Gaza, May 18, 2021.

Momen Faiz | NurPhoto | Getty Images

Biden appeared reluctant to publicly pressure Netanyahu to stop airstrikes against what Israel says are military targets embedded in civilian neighborhoods in Gaza.

This prompted progressive Democrats in Congress and US allies abroad to call on the president to play a more visible role and exert more diplomatic pressure on Israel, which is deeply dependent on the United States for its weapons and equipment. military.

In Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Netanyahu briefed foreign diplomats and ambassadors of the escalation of violence and reiterated previous claims that the IDF is trying “to target those who target us with great precision. “

“There is no military in the world that does more than the Israeli army, in the Israeli security services, in Israeli intelligence to prevent collateral damage,” Netanyahu said.

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