A Palestinian youth searches for his belongings under the rubble of a building that was destroyed by Israeli air strikes, in Gaza [Mohammed Salem/Reuters]

Palestinian factions and Israeli occupation reach ceasefire

Gaza (QNN) – An Egypt-mediated ceasefire agreement was reached between Palestinian factions and the occupation state of Israel ending the recent Israeli aggression on the besieged Gaza Strip since Friday which left 25 Palestinians and four Israelis killed.

Hamas-affiliated Al-Aqsa TV reported on the agreement which was confirmed by a Palestinian official during the early hours of Monday morning.

Gaza officials confirmed to Al Jazeera that a deal was reached at 1:30 GMT, and no Israeli air raids on the Palestinian territory have been reported since the deal came into effect.

The officials said Egypt and Qatar helped mediate an end to days of attacks between Gaza and Israel.

There was no confirmation from the Israeli side. However, the Israeli army early on Monday lifted all protective restrictions imposed near the Gaza area during the weekend’s flare-up.

An Islamic Jihad official, on condition of anonymity, said the truce agreement was based on Israel easing its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Among the steps, he said, were the easing of limits on the fishing zone to 12 nautical miles off the coast of Gaza and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.

An Egyptian official also confirmed the deal on condition of anonymity.

The flare-up was the most serious clash between the two sides since a spate of fighting in November.

Rocket sirens in southern Israel, which had gone off continuously over the weekend, sending residents running for cover, were quiet for a few hours straight before dawn on Monday.

On Sunday, Israeli occupation’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had ordered “massive strikes” on the Gaza Strip after a two-day escalation in which Israeli warplanes and gunboats targeted Gaza as fighters in the besieged enclave fired a barrage of rockets into southern Israel.

A 34-year-old Hamas commander was killed on Sunday in what the Israeli military described as a targeted strike.

Other Palestinian victims included two pregnant women and three infants. In Beit Lahiya, a town in the northern Gaza Strip, an Israeli air raid hit a residential building, killing a four-month-old baby and her father.

In the Israeli city of Ashkelon, a 58-year-old Israeli man was killed after being struck by shrapnel from a rocket attack. Two other Israelis, critically wounded in a separate rocket attack on a factory on Sunday afternoon, later died.

Around two million Palestinians live in Gaza, the economy of which has suffered years of Israeli and Egyptian blockades as well as recent foreign aid cuts and sanctions by the Palestinian Authority, Hamas’ West Bank-based rival.

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