Cease-fire reached with Israel to end Gaza fighting, Islamic Jihad says

The Islamic Jihad militant group early Thursday announced it had reached a cease-fire with Israel. The deal, brokered by Egyptian mediaries, took effect at 5:30 a.m. local time, Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Berim said.

The reported truce followed two days of violence that left at least 32 Palestinians dead, according to the Associated Press.

Berim said the cease-fire came after his group submitted a list of demands late Wednesday, including a halt to Israeli targeted killings of the group’s leaders and an easing of Israel’s 12-year blockade of Gaza.

Earlier Wednesday, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said it was “raining rockets” across the country, with Islamic Jihad firing one projectile every seven minutes since a senior commander of the terror group was killed by the Israeli military in a targeted airstrike Tuesday morning.

Bahu Abu al-Ata, 42, and his wife were killed as they slept in their home in eastern Gaza, IDF spokesman Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus said. Conricus added that Ata was responsible for a number of recent rocket attacks on southern Israel and claimed he was actively planning new attacks.

In response to Abu al-Ata’s killing, Islamic Jihad — an Iranian-backed militant group sworn to Israel’s destruction — launched dozens of rockets toward Israel. Some rockets reached as far as Tel Aviv, which prompted Israel to carry out scores of retaliatory airstrikes in the heaviest round of fighting in months.

Palestinian health officials said the death toll has risen to 32 in Gaza, including a 7-year-old boy and two other minors. More than 70 have reportedly been injured. The number of dead given by officials included at least 16 militants. Five civilians, including a woman and boys ages 17, 16 and 7, were among the dead. The identities of the others killed were not immediately known.

The IDF tweeted photos of alleged “terrorists” on Wednesday and wrote, “Since 4 a.m. Tuesday, we targeted terrorists involved in firing rockets at Israeli civilians. We killed 20 terrorists, most of them from Islamic Jihad. Our mission is to defend the people of Israel.”

Earlier Wednesday, the IDF tweeted, “Another Islamic Jihad terrorist in Gaza was preparing to fire rockets at Israel. Little did he know that Israel was watching. The terrorist has been eliminated.”

“All of the attacks against Israel over the last half-year were the responsibility of one specific terrorist his name was Baha Abu al-Ata,” Conricus said during a Facebook live on Wednesday, which was filmed in front of n Iron Dome Aerial Defense battery in southern Israel. “He’s no longer a problem.”

“He was at the receiving end of a specific surgical operation by the IDF yesterday morning. We sent specific ammunition and we were able to kill him very precisely without causing a lot of collateral damage around him,” Conricus said. “We knew that this guy was a ticking bomb. He had lots of blood on his hands.”

He added, “He [Abu al-Ata] was planning to launch another attack against Israel within the coming days. That is what led us to execute that action, which was completed successfully… that specific terrorist will no longer be threatening additional Israeli civilians.”

Conricus said Wednesday that since Abu al-Ata was killed Islamic Jihad has been firing rockets into Israel, “fortunately without significant Israeli casualties.”

He attributed that to the Iron Dome, which he said is a “unique Israeli system developed together with the American defense industry, that has the capacity to intercept rockets in flight and to blow them up in the sky to make sure that Israeli civilians are safe and out of harm’s way.”

“Israel has been under a barrage of more than 220 rockets fired from Gaza by the Islamic Jihad,” said Conricus, adding that Iron Dome batteries placed all over the country, mainly in the south, have helped Israel “defend against more than 200 rockets that have been fired from Gaza.”

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