Ceasefire between Israel, Hamas comes into force
Updated 16:55, 21-May-2021

An Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement came into effect at 2:00 a.m. on Friday Palestinian time between Israel and militant groups led by the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas).

At 2:00 a.m., the words "Allahu Akbar" (God is great) rang out from loudspeakers of mosques all over the Gaza Strip, celebrating the end of more than 11 days of tit-for-tat attacks between Israel and Hamas-led militants in the Gaza Strip.

Militants fired into the air, while tens of thousands of people took to the streets, whistling and shouting "Allahu Akbar."

Earlier on Thursday, Hamas' armed wing said it had stopped firing rockets at Israel in response to the ceasefire agreement, which Qatar, the United Nations and other countries, helped negotiate alongside Egypt. 

"We had prepared strikes of rockets that cover all (Israel) from the city of Haifa in the north to Ramon in the south, but we responded to the ceasefire to watch the enemy's behavior until 2:00 a.m.," spokesman Abu Obeida said in a short recorded speech aired on the movement's Al-Aqsa Television. 

He added that "starting the rocket strikes depends on the behavior of the enemy of totally halting its aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip."

Abu Obeida also said that "the leaders of the occupation are under a real test and the decision to resume the rocket strikes on all Israel is on the table."

Over the past 11 days of tension, Israeli fighter jets carried out hundreds of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and Hamas-led militants fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.

Israel said that 12 Israelis were killed and more than 100 injured by the rockets fired from the Gaza Strip at towns and cities in central and southern Israel.

On Thursday, the health ministry in Gaza said that 232 Palestinians had been killed, including 65 children, 39 women and 17 elderly, and that 1,900 were injured over the 11 days.

(With input from Xinhua)

(Cover: Children gesture from a car driving past the rubble of a damaged building as Palestinians celebrate in the streets following a ceasefire, in Gaza City, May 21, 2021. /Xinhua)

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