Seven rockets from Gaza hit Israel yesterday, just hours after militant factions agreed to an informal truce after four days of deadly cross-border violence in which 15 Palestinians and an Israeli died.
The truce was hammered out after talks with Egyptian officials, and several hours later, Israel’s security Cabinet held an emergency session during the night at which ministers decided to hold off further attacks on the Palestinian territory, army radio said.
Police said seven rockets had hit Israel since midnight, causing no casualties but damage to several buildings; the military put the number at eight.
Gaza also enjoyed a second night of clear skies, with no air strikes reported.
“We have reached an informal agreement to establish a ceasefire from tonight on condition that Israel halts its attacks,” a senior Hamas official said late on Sunday.
During the evening, the Hamas-run security forces were “instructed to stop the shooting” against Israel, he said, with troops fanning out along the border area to enforce the order.
Efforts to end the fighting in and around Gaza came as Israel sought to head off a diplomatic crisis with Egypt in the wake of a deadly shooting attack near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat on Thursday, which left eight Israelis dead.
As Israel hunted the gunmen along the Egypt-Israeli border, five Egyptian policemen were shot dead, and two days later, Egypt’s state TV said Cairo was to recall its envoy from Israel in protest.
Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak expressed “regret” over the deaths and promised an investigation, with the results shared with the Egyptian authorities.
The looming specter of a crisis with Egypt played a concrete role in bringing about an end to the Gaza confrontations, Israeli press reports said.