Israel and Gaza terror groups reach cease-fire

Israeli soldiers at a staging area in southern Israel, near the border with the Gaza Strip, Nov. 13, 2019. A cease-fire between Israel and Gaza terror groups went into effect on the following morning after 450 rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel in the wake of Israel’s assassination of a terror leader. Photo: Yonatan Sindel/Flash90

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A cease-fire went into effect between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad, as well as other terrorist groups in Gaza.

The Israel Defense Forces confirmed that the cease-fire went into effect at 4 a.m. Thursday, and Egyptian negotiators said it would begin at 5:30 a.m.

Several rockets were fired between 6 a.m. and 7 a.m. The quiet held until 11 a.m., when five rockets were fired on the southern city of Ashdod. The IDF said the truce continued to hold despite the latest rocket barrage.

Gaza terror groups fired a total of 450 rockets at Israel between Tuesday morning and Thursday morning, according to the IDF. Israel retaliated in an operation it called Operation Black Belt.

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Israel’s targeted killing of a Palestinian Islamic Jihad senior commander, Baha Abu al-Ata, sparked the rocket fire from the terror groups. The IDF in its operation also killed Rasmi Abu Malhous, a senior Islamic Jihad commander, in a strike on his home in the central Gaza Strip on Wednesday night. The airstrike also killed at least six members of his family, according to Palestinian sources.

The Gaza Health Ministry announced the death toll at 34. A majority of those killed are reported to be members of Islamic Jihad and other Gaza terror groups.  The Hamas terror organization, which runs Gaza, pledged solidarity with Islamic Jihad during the two days of fighting but did not participate, according to reports.

An Islamic Jihad spokesman said the cease-fire was based on a list of demands from his group topped by a halt to Israeli targeted killings of the group’s leaders. Other demands were to stop using live ammunition on March of Return protesters on the border between Gaza and Israel and a return to existing Gaza agreements.

Israeli government minister Gilad Erdan denied that concessions were made to Islamic Jihad.

The IDF said that it operated “decisively and precisely against Islamic Jihad in Gaza until quiet returned to the skies above Israel. Quiet will be met with quiet.”