A cease-fire aimed at ending 11 days of withering combat between Israel and Hamas militants took effect early Friday, hours after Israel’s security cabinet voted to approve an Egyptian initiative to stop the fighting.
The cabinet, made up of top security officials and ministers, voted unanimously to accept what Israel described as a bilateral and unconditional cease-fire. Facing mounting international pressure, including from President Biden in recent days, the Israeli government said it decided to bring the air and artillery campaign to a halt after significantly degrading Hamas’s military infrastructure and killing many of its commanders.
Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip, said it had also agreed with the Egyptian proposal, which came into force at 2 a.m. local time. “The Palestinian resistance will abide by this agreement as long as the occupation is committed,” said Taher al-Nounou, a media adviser to the head of the Hamas political bureau, referring to Israeli forces.
The conflict has taken a steep toll. Israel pounded Gaza with airstrikes and artillery fire, causing extensive destruction and killing 232 Palestinians, including at least 65 children, local health officials said. Hamas’s ferocious rocketing left 12 dead in Israel, two of them children, and sent residents of much of the country repeatedly fleeing for shelter.