Israel and the militant group Palestinian Islamic Jihad agreed to a cease-fire on Saturday, in response to Egyptian negotiators, ending 5 days of violence by which 35 folks had been killed.

Egyptian officers mentioned representatives from Israel and Islamic Jihad, an Islamist group based mostly in Gaza, had agreed to droop combating. Islamic Jihad confirmed {that a} cease-fire had been reached, however Israeli officers wouldn’t instantly touch upon the state of the settlement. Exchanges of fireplace continued for no less than half-hour after the cease-fire was supposed to enter impact at 10 p.m. native time.

In accordance with native Arabic information retailers, the perimeters mutually agreed to cease firing on civilians and destroying properties. However a Western diplomat, with information of the talks, mentioned the cease-fire got here with out situations — as Israel had demanded — and was based mostly on the precept of calm being answered with calm.

The 5 days of combating, the longest stretch of cross-border violence between Israel and the group lately, remained comparatively contained. Islamic Jihad, a small militant group backed by Iran, failed to attract in Hamas — the extra highly effective Islamic militant group that controls Gaza — or another main faction. The Islamic Jihad fighters, alone on the battlefield, suffered crushing blows.

Some consultants attributed the stamina of Islamic Jihad — which Israel, the US and plenty of different Western international locations classify as a terrorist group — to the truth that, not like Hamas, the group doesn’t bear any accountability for Gaza’s largely impoverished inhabitants of greater than two million folks. As a substitute, it’s targeted solely on its long-term aim of changing Israel with an Islamic state.

“It exists only for one function: to battle and ‘liberate’ the nation,” Zakaria al-Qaq, a Palestinian skilled in nationwide safety based mostly in East Jerusalem, mentioned of Islamic Jihad.

“They don’t have any ministerial positions or parliamentary seats to maintain and no privileges apart from to die” he mentioned, including that the group had gained the respect of many Palestinians, who sympathize with the Gazans residing below a strict land, air and sea blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt.

Israel additionally maintained that Iran, Islamic Jihad’s patron, had been setting the agenda whereas the group’s leaders stay in exile. Rear Adm. Daniel Hagari, the chief spokesman for the Israeli army, mentioned this previous week that the group’s leaders had been “residing in inns in Beirut and Damascus and driving Mercedes” whereas on the Iranian payroll, had been “OK with Gaza bleeding.”

Earlier rounds of combating between Israel and Islamic Jihad — in April, in August final yr and in November 2019 — had been throughout in about 50 hours or much less.

However in a tv interview in October, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, the chief of Palestinian Islamic Jihad in exile, mentioned the group had made a “strategic mistake” two months earlier in agreeing to a cease-fire after 50 hours, below native and regional stress. He mentioned they might have continued combating and achieved “concrete outcomes on the bottom.”

This time, Israel argued that it was prepared for a cease-fire with no preconditions, but it surely additionally mentioned that it was able to proceed with its offensive. For its half, Islamic Jihad cited “nice loyal common help” on Saturday and mentioned that “the resistance has ready itself for months of confrontation.”

Two important occasions on the calendar within the coming week had the potential to attract broader Arab help for the group’s trigger.

On Monday, Palestinians and their supporters will mark the seventy fifth anniversary of the so-called Nakba, or “disaster” by which a whole lot of hundreds of Palestinian refugees fled or had been expelled from their properties within the struggle surrounding Israel’s creation in 1948. Then, later this coming week, tens of hundreds of Israeli nationalists are anticipated to march by means of the Muslim Quarter of Jerusalem’s Previous Metropolis in an annual parade commemorating Israel’s seize of East Jerusalem within the 1967 struggle.

After firing rockets towards Jerusalem on Friday, Dawoud Shehab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, instructed a neighborhood Arabic information outlet, “The battle is approaching the time of the flag march — that’s what spurs us on to proceed.”

The warring sides had traded hearth on Saturday earlier than the settlement took maintain. The Israeli army mentioned it had struck mortar-shell and rocket-launching websites belonging to Islamic Jihad in addition to what it described as two of the group’s command facilities positioned in residential properties. And sirens constantly sounded in southern and central Israel, warning of barrages of incoming projectiles together with within the hour earlier than the cease-fire was anticipated to return into impact.

Over the previous 5 days, Islamic Jihad fired greater than 1,200 rockets and mortar rounds towards Israel, and Israel struck greater than 370 targets affiliated with the group in Gaza, in response to information launched by the army. The Israeli authorities additionally mentioned that the group had fired dozens of mortar shells towards areas close to the border crossings between Israel and Gaza, stopping their opening for the passage of most individuals and items.

The Palestinian Ministry of Well being has reported no less than 33 folks killed in Gaza, lots of them civilians, because the marketing campaign started and greater than 100 injured. In Israel, an older girl was killed on Thursday by a rocket launched from Gaza that struck an condominium block in central Israel. Israel’s ambulance service reported eight folks injured by shrapnel and particles, together with three it mentioned had been wounded by a rocket fired into southern Israel on Saturday, two of them severely. Two of the three had been Palestinian staff from Gaza. One of many staff from Gaza subsequently died within the hospital.

Israeli officers mentioned the choice to launch the offensive in opposition to leaders of Islamic Jihad was made on Might 2, the day that the group fired greater than 100 rockets and mortar shells at southern Israel after the loss of life in Israeli custody of a Palestinian starvation striker, Khader Adnan, who was protesting his detention. Mr. Adnan was an Islamic Jihad chief from the occupied West Financial institution. That night time, Israel carried out some preliminary airstrikes in Gaza that killed one man.

Israeli officers mentioned the marketing campaign that started on Tuesday was geared toward weakening Islamic Jihad, an goal they achieved within the first seconds of the marketing campaign, and restoring stability to the realm. The opening strikes killed three of Islamic Jihad’s prime commanders and 10 civilians, together with kids, in response to Palestinian well being officers. Three extra of the group’s key commanders had been killed in subsequent strikes this previous week.

The Israeli army’s chief of workers, Lt. Gen. Herzi Halevi, mentioned on Saturday that Islamic Jihad’s continued hearth had enabled Israel “to proceed to make additional achievements.”

The USA has backed Israel’s proper to defend itself in opposition to indiscriminate rocket hearth by Islamic Jihad, whereas additionally stressing the urgency of reaching a cease-fire settlement.

Islamic Jihad at first introduced a number of situations for a cease-fire, together with an Israeli dedication to halt assassinations; the discharge of Mr. Adnan’s physique for burial; and the cancellation of the Jerusalem flag parade — situations that Israel refused.

Iyad Abuheweila contributed reporting from Gaza Metropolis, and Carol Sutherland from Moshav Ben Ami, Israel.