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Israel and Hamas agree a ceasefire after 11 days

Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, have agreed to a ceasefire that would end an 11-day conflict that has killed at least 230 Palestinians and 12 Israelis.

The truce came a day after the US stepped up pressure on Israel to end its bombardment of the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip, with US president Joe Biden telling Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday that he “expected a significant de-escalation today on the path to a ceasefire”.

Netanyahu initially resisted, saying he was “determined to continue this operation until its aim is met”. But after Israel’s security cabinet met on Thursday, it said it had voted unanimously in favour of a “mutual and unconditional” Gaza ceasefire.

Hamas said the fighting would cease at 2am local time on Friday.

In a statement, Israel’s security cabinet held out the possibility that its military strikes could resume, saying: “The political leadership emphasises that it is the reality on the ground that will determine the future of the operation.”

Taher al-Nono, media adviser to Ismail Haniyeh, Hamas’ leader, said: “The Palestinian resistance will commit with this agreement as long as the occupation does.”

The ceasefire comes after Israeli warplanes and artillery pounded Gaza for more than a week, targeting Hamas militants but causing huge destruction across the densely populated, hemmed-in strip which is home to 2m people. At least 104 women and children have been killed in Gaza, according to Palestinian health officials.

Hamas, which fought three wars with Israel between 2009 and 2014, fired more than 3,700 rockets targeting cities and towns across Israel, and two Israeli children were killed.

The latest conflict began on May 10 after weeks on tensions in and around Jerusalem and it triggered the worst fighting between Israel and the Palestinians since a 2014 war with Hamas. It also sparked communal unrest between minority Arab Israelis and Jews, a rarity that unsettled political leaders and wider society in Israel, and widespread unrest in the occupied West Bank.

The ceasefire agreed late on Thursday was brokered by Egypt, which has mediated along with the US and Qatar. Cairo said it would send two security delegations to Tel Aviv and the Palestinian territories to follow up on implementation measures.

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