A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants was held overnight, following
three days of violence.
Isolated weapons fire from both sides in the minutes before and just after the Sunday
night deadline failed to derail the Egypt-brokered truce
The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took effect at 11:30 p.m. (2030 GMT; 4:30 p.m.
EDT). Israeli strikes and militant rockets continued in the minutes leading up to the
beginning of the truce, and Israel said it would “respond strongly” if the cease-fire
Israeli aircraft have pummeled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed
Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response.
The risk of the cross-border fighting turning into a full-fledged war remained as long
as no truce was reached. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.
Gaza’s ruling Hamas group remained on the sidelines, possibly because it fears Israeli
reprisals and undoing economic understandings with Israel, including Israeli work
permits for thousands of Gaza residents, that bolster its control.
Israel launched its operation with a strike Friday on a leader of the Islamic Jihad, and
followed up on Saturday with another targeted strike on a second prominent leader.
The second Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was killed in an airstrike on
an apartment building in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza late Saturday,
which also killed two other militants and five civilians.
Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander for southern Gaza, was in the apartment of a
member of the group when the missile struck, flattening the three-story building and
badly damaging nearby houses.
“Suddenly, without warning, the house next to us was bombed and everything
became black and dusty with smoke in the blink of an eye,” said Wissam Jouda, who
lives next to the targeted building.
Ahmed al-Qaissi, another neighbor, said his wife and son were among the wounded,
suffering shrapnel injuries. To make way for rescue workers, al-Qaissi agreed to have
part of his house demolished.
As a funeral for Mansour began in the Gaza Strip on Sunday, the Israeli military said
it was striking suspected “Islamic Jihad rocket launch posts.” Smoke could be seen
from the strikes as thumps from their explosions rattled Gaza. Israeli airstrikes and
rocket fire followed for hours as sirens wailed in central Israel. As the sunset call to
prayer sounded in Gaza, sirens wailed as far north as Tel Aviv.
Israel says some of the deaths during this round were caused by errant rocket fire,
including one incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six
Palestinians were killed Saturday. On Sunday, a projectile hit a home in the same area
of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it
was investigating whether the area was struck by an errant rocket.
Israel’s Defense Ministry said mortars fired from Gaza hit the Erez border crossing
into Israel, used by thousands of Gazans daily. The mortars damaged the roof and
shrapnel hit the hall’s entrance, the ministry said. The crossing has been closed amid
The Rafah strike was the deadliest so far in the current round of fighting, which was
initiated by Israel on Friday with the targeted killing of Islamic Jihad’s commander
for northern Gaza.
Israel said it took action against the militant group because of concrete threats of an
imminent attack, but has not provided details. Caretaker Prime Minister Yair Lapid,
who is an experienced diplomat but untested in overseeing a war, unleashed the
offensive less than three months before a general election in which he is
campaigning to keep the job.
In a statement Sunday, Lapid said the military would continue to strike targets in
Gaza “in a pinpoint and responsible way in order to reduce to a minimum the harm to
noncombatants.” Lapid said the strike that killed Mansour was “an extraordinary
“The operation will continue as long as necessary,” Lapid said.
The U.N. Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Monday on the
violence. China, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the
session in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents
Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.
Israel estimates its airstrikes killed about 15 militants.
Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas, and little is known about
its arsenal. Both groups call for Israel’s destruction, but have different priorities, with
Hamas constrained by the demands of governing.
The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired about 580 rockets toward Israel. The
army said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down
being fired toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than
Air raid sirens sounded in the Jerusalem area for the first time Sunday since last
year’s Israel-Hamas war.
Jerusalem is typically a flashpoint during periods of cross-border fighting between
Israel and Gaza. On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist
lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as
the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary. The visit, under heavy
police protection, ended without incident, police said.
Such demonstrative visits by Israeli hard-liners seeking to underscore Israeli claims
of sovereignty over contested Jerusalem have sparked violence in the past. The holy
site sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is central to rival
narratives of Palestinians and Israeli Jews.
In Palestinian cities and towns in the West Bank, Israeli security forces said they
detained 19 people on suspicion of belonging to the Islamic Jihad during overnight
By Sunday, Hamas still appeared to stay out of the battle. The group has a strong
incentive to avoid another war. Last year’s Israel-Hamas war, one of four major
conflicts and several smaller battles over the last 15 years, exacted a staggering toll
on the impoverished territory’s 2.3 million Palestinian residents.
Since the last war, Israel and Hamas have reached tacit understandings based on
trading calm for work permits and a slight easing of the border blockade imposed by
Israel and Egypt when Hamas overran the territory 15 years ago. Israel has issued
12,000 work permits to Gaza laborers, and has held out the prospect of granting
another 2,000 permits.
The lone power plant in Gaza ground to a halt at noon Saturday due to lack of fuel.
Israel has kept its crossing points into Gaza closed since Tuesday. With the new
disruption, Gazans can use only four hours of electricity a day, increasing their
reliance on private generators and deepening the territory’s chronic power crisis
amid peak summer heat.