Hamas Wants Ceasefire After More Than 600 Rockets Fired Into Israel

By Mimi Nguyen Ly

Palestinian officials said that a ceasefire, mediated by Egypt, was reached between Israel and terrorist groups on May 6 at 4:30 a.m. local time, to end a recent surge of violence in southern Israel and the Gaza Strip. But no official confirmation of such a ceasefire deal has come from Israel or its military.

Israel has been at the receiving end of more than 600 rockets since May 3, by Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) from the Gaza Strip.

“The ceasefire understanding will begin Monday 04:30,” a Palestinian official familiar with the agreement said, according to Reuters.

A second Palestinian official confirmed that a deal had reached, as well as a TV station belonging to the Hamas terrorist group, according to Reuters.

Reports of the ceasefire come after a two-hour window of no rockets being fired into Israel, the Times of Israel reported.

Despite ceasefire reports, Israeli authorities have decided to keep schools in southern Israel—within a 40-kilometer (25-mile) radius of Gaza—closed for the day, according to the Times of Israel.

An Islamic Jihad official told AFP that the ceasefire was based on Israel easing restrictions on the Gaza strip, including easing limits on fishing and improvements in Gaza’s electricity and fuel situation.

Israel said its blockade is necessary to stop weapons reaching Hamas, with which it has fought three wars since the group seized control of Gaza in 2007, two years after Israel withdrew its settlers and troops from the area.

rockets gaza hamas terrorist to israel 2
Iron Dome anti-missile system fires interception missiles as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel as seen from the city of Ashkelon, Israel Ashkelon, on May 5, 2019. (Reuters/Amir Cohen)

The Times of Israel reported that shortly after midnight on May 6, terrorist groups threatened more fighting unless Israel succumbs to their demands and acknowledges the understanding reached.

“The battle will not end until the occupation responds affirmatively to our people’s demands,” the Joint Command Center of Armed Palestinian factions in Gaza said in a statement early on May 6. “We will not allow the settlers to leave their shelters as long as the enemy’s leadership denies its understandings with the resistance.”

On early May 5, Hamas and PIJ had threatened to increase the range of their rocket fire, according to The Jerusalem Post. The two terrorist groups said in a joint statement that they were considering firing rockets to cities over 40 kilometers (25 miles) from the Gaza strip.

More than 600 Rockets

Israel’s military, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said that more than 600 rockets and other projectiles—over 150 of them intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system—had been fired at southern Israeli cities and villages since Friday, May 3. IDF said it had fired at about 320 targets in the Gaza Strip belonging to various terrorist groups.

Four Israeli civilians have been killed since the rocket attacks began on May 4.

Air strikes directed at Hamas and extremist facilities from Israel’s military in response to the barrage of rockets have killed 19 Palestinians, more than half of whom have been civilians, according to Reuters.

Egypt and the United Nations, who have served as brokers in the past, had been trying to mediate a truce.

On May 5, President Donald Trump posted words in support of Israel.

“Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad,” he wrote “We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizen.”

Trump also tweeted a message to those living in Gaza.

“To the Gazan people—these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery,” he wrote. End the violence and work towards peace—it can happen!”

Vice President Mike Pence tweeted, “We strongly condemn the attacks in Gaza by Hamas terrorists. Israel has the absolute right to defend itself, and the US stands by our great ally Israel.”

Reuters contributed to this report

This is a developing story. Updates to come.