Israel and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist group agreed to a Cairo-mediated cease-fire to take effect late on Sunday, both sides said, raising hopes of an end to the most serious flare-up on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.
Israeli forces have pounded targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Islamic Jihad terrorist group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response.
The truce came into effect at 23:30 (4:30 p.m. ET). It was announced in separate statements by Islamic Jihad and then Israel, who both thanked Egypt for mediating the cease-fire.
The three-day clashes have echoed preludes to previous Gaza wars, though they were relatively contained as Hamas, the ruling terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, had so far stayed out.
Gaza officials said 44 Palestinians had so far been killed. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets. The rockets have threatened much of southern Israel and sent residents in cities including Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to shelters.
Israel launched what it called preemptive strikes on Friday against what it anticipated would be an Islamic Jihad attack meant to avenge the arrest of a leader of the group, Bassam al-Saadi, in the West Bank.
In response, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel. At a news conference in Tehran, the group’s leader Ziyad al-Nakhala, said Cairo would “work to secure the release” of al-Saadi. Israeli and Egyptian officials did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
On Sunday, Islamic Jihad extended its range to fire toward Jerusalem in what it described as retaliation for the overnight killing of its southern Gaza commander by Israel—the second such senior officer it has lost in the fighting.
Israel said its Iron Dome interceptor, whose success rate the army put at 97 percent, shot down the rockets just west of the city.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.