Israeli forces and Palestinian armed groups in Gaza have agreed on a ceasefire, two Palestinian officials said, after a night of Israeli airstrikes pounding the besieged coastal enclave as rockets were launched towards Israel following the death of the Palestinian hunger striker Khader Adnan.
The “mutual and simultaneous” ceasefire went into effect at 03:30 (00:30 GMT) and was brokered through efforts by Egyptian, Qatari and UN officials, two sources told Reuters news agency on Wednesday.
Hamas was in talks with Egyptian, Qatari and UN officials to end Israel’s “aggression against Gaza,” the group said in a statement earlier on Wednesday.
Hamas said its leader Ismail Haniyeh has held talks with officials from both countries and the UN to end Israel’s attacks, which saw Israeli warplanes and tanks attack targets in Gaza late on Tuesday and rockets fired at Israel by Palestinian fighters. fired after the death of a prominent Palestinian prisoner. Khader Adnan, who died after 87 days of hunger strike in an Israeli prison.
A joint statement from Gaza factions on Tuesday, including Hamas and Islamic Jihad, said the rocket fire was a “first response” to Adnan’s death. The Israeli army said at least 30 rockets were fired from Gaza. Two landed in the small Israeli town of Sderot just east of Gaza. The Israeli emergency service Magen David Adom said three people were injured by shrapnel in the Sderot area.
Israeli airstrikes targeted several locations in Gaza — which, with a population of more than two million people, is one of the most densely populated areas in the world, according to security sources and Palestinian witnesses.
Issam Adwan, a journalist and resident of Gaza, told Al Jazeera that he heard several explosions near his home and refuted Israeli forces’ claims that they only targeted military sites and not civilians.
“We have lived and experienced a significant increase…by Israeli warplanes targeting densely populated areas, even with those claims by Israeli authorities targeting [only] Hamas military sites – as they usually claim,” Adwan said.
European Union foreign policy chief Josep Borrell earlier on Tuesday urged Israel to end “unilateral measures” that could further heighten tensions “and jeopardize the possibility of a future just and lasting peace.” basis of the two-state solution,” the EU foreign service said. after Borrell met Israeli Foreign Minister Eli Cohen in Brussels.
In the West Bank city of Hebron, shops observed a general strike to mourn Adnan’s death. Some protesters burned tires and threw stones at Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas and rubber bullets at them. There were no reports of injuries.
Adnan was arrested 12 times and spent about eight years in Israeli prisons, most of them under so-called “administrative detention”, in which Israeli authorities can detain Palestinians without trial or charge for renewable six-month intervals.
Since 2011, Adnan had held at least three hunger strikes to protest his detention without charge by the Israeli army.
Adnan’s lawyer Jamil Al-Khatib and a doctor from a human rights organization who recently met Adnan in prison accused the Israeli authorities of withholding medical care.
“We demanded that he be transferred to a civilian hospital where he could be closely monitored. Unfortunately, such a demand was met with intransigence and rejection,” Al-Khatib told Reuters.
Adnan, 45, was a baker and father of nine children from Jenin in the Israeli-occupied West Bank.
Jonathan Kuttab, an international human rights lawyer and co-founder of the Palestinian rights group Al-Haq, said Adnan was an example of a man whose “will was not broken and could not be broken” by Israeli forces.
“He had no way to resist them other than his non-violent response, which was ‘I refuse to eat until you kill me,'” Kuttab told Al Jazeera.
“The Israelis are trying to control several million Palestinians, and they are trying to break their will, they are trying to break their resolve,” he said.
Adnan was “under administrative detention. Even under the apartheid regime in South Africa, there was no such thing as administrative detention,” he added.