Ending days of hostilities that have caused the deaths of over 200 people including women and children, Israel and the Gaza-based Hamas group of Palestine have accepted a ceasefire agreement. Egypt and Qatar played a key role in brokering peace in the region and now the focus will switch to providing humanitarian aid to conflict affected people.

The Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs released a statement on Twitter saying, “The Security Cabinet this evening unanimously accepted the recommendation of all of the security officials, the IDF Chief-of-Staff, the head of the ISA, the head of the Mossad and the head of the National Security Council to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions, to take effect at a time to be determined. The IDF Chief-of-Staff, the military and the head of the ISA briefed ministers on Israel’s significant achievements in the operation, some of which are unprecedented. The political leadership emphasizes that it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation.”

Meanwhile, shedding light on the casualties in the conflict so far, the Palestinian Ministry of Health (Gaza) issued a statement saying, “232 Palestinians have been killed, including 65 children, 39 women, and 17 elderly people, and 1900 have been wounded due to the ongoing Israeli attacks on Gaza Strip. The Ministry of Health is concerned about the humanitarian situation and the health conditions of the population in Gaza.” It added, “Israeli forces targeted densely populated residential areas, displacing 50,000 families to shelters. These overcrowded shelters are now a dangerous environment for the rapid spread of COVID-19.”

Welcoming the ceasefire, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said, “I welcome the ceasefire between Gaza and Israel, after eleven days of deadly hostilities. I extend my deepest condolences to the victims of the violence and their loved ones.” Guterres further said, “I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel, and I call on all sides to observe the ceasefire.”

Guterres also called on the international community to develop a “robust package of support for the swift, sustainable reconstruction and recovery that supports the Palestinian people and strengthens their institutions.” He also stressed that Israeli and Palestinian authorities must engage in serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.

US President Joe Biden who spoke with both Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Egyptian President Al Sisi told media persons, “Prime Minister Netanyahu informed me that Israel has agreed to a mutual, unconditional ceasefire to begin in less than two hours.  The Egyptians have now informed us that Hamas and the other groups in Gaza have also agreed.”

*Feature image: A Bus and car burnt after a rocket hits Holon on May 11, 2021. Photo by Yoav Keren via Wikimedia Commons.