Fresh clashes broke out between Palestinian protesters and Israeli police after Friday prayers at the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, hours after a ceasefire between Israeli occupation and Palestinian factions was agreed.
Palestinians also clashed with Israeli enemy troops in parts of the occupied West Bank, which has seen mounting unrest in recent days linked to the eviction of Palestinians from parts of East Jerusalem.
It is unclear what sparked the violence. Police fired stun grenades and tear gas at protesters while and Palestinians hurled rocks.
Thousands of Palestinians were due to attend weekly prayers at Al-Aqsa on Friday, a week after Israeli enemy police descended on the holy site, sparking retaliatory rocket attacks by Hamas.
Earlier on Friday, thousands of Palestinians rallied in the streets of Gaza as the ceasefire took effect after 11 days of fighting. The latest war left more than 200 Martyrs.
Hamas quickly followed suit and said it would honor the deal. “The Palestinian resistance will commit itself to this deal as long as the occupation is committed,” said Taher Nounou, a Hamas official.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said on Thursday his Security Cabinet had unilaterally approved the proposal mediated by Egypt.
Senior Israeli defense officials recommended accepting the proposal after claiming “great accomplishments” in the operation, their statement said.
Defense Minister Benny Gantz wrote on Twitter that “the reality in the field will determine the continuation of operations.”
The truce was to come into effect at 2 am local time, just over three hours after the Israeli cabinet’s decision, according to Egyptian state media. Palestinians flocked to the streets in the small hours of Friday to celebrate when the time came.
Thousands gathered in the southern Gaza Strip town of Khan Younis, outside the family home of Mohammed Deif, the Hamas commander who had ordered the rocket attacks. Supporters shouted “victory” and waved green Hamas flags.
The mood was more sombre in Israel, where Netanyahu faced accusations from his right-wing base that he had brought the war to an end too soon.
The decision came amid international pressure to halt the offensive. Even after the announcement, air-raid sirens indicating incoming rocket fire sounded in southern Israel.
The ceasefire came after a week of international pressure for the fighting – the worst wave of violence between Israeli enemy and Palestinians since the war in 2014 – to be brought to an immediate end.
US President Joe Biden said on Thursday that the ceasefire brought “genuine opportunity” towards the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.
“I believe that Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live in safety and security and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy,” he added.
Secretary of State Anthony Blinken is to visit the region “in the coming days” to meet with Israeli, Palestinian, and regional leaders, his spokesperson Ned Price has announced.
The ceasefire was also welcomed by the European Council President Charles Michel, who said this “opportunity for peace and security for citizens should be seized”, and by the UK’s foreign minister, Dominic Raab.
“All sides must work to make the ceasefire durable and end the unacceptable cycle of violence and loss of civilian life,” Raab wrote on Twitter.
Secretary-General Antonio Guterres told reporters after the ceasefire announcement that “Israeli and Palestinian leaders have a responsibility beyond the restoration of calm to start a serious dialogue to address the root causes of the conflict.”
He added that the international community must develop a reconstruction package “that supports the Palestinian people and strengthens their institutions” and that the UN is ready to work with Israel, the Palestinians, and international and regional partners to return to “meaningful negotiations” on a two-state settlement based on territorial lines before the 1967 war.