Netanyahu sends out new warning to Hamas leaders as fledgling ceasefire holds

ITV News Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo explains how the ceasefire was reached after eleven days of violence

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has warned Gaza’s militant Hamas rulers against any further rocket attacks after announcing a ceasefire in the 11-day conflict.

In a speech hours after the truce took effect on Friday, he said: “If Hamas thinks we will tolerate a drizzle of rockets, it is wrong.”

He vowed to respond with “a new level of force against any expression of aggression against communities around Gaza and any other part of Israel”.

A Hamas official had earlier confirmed the ceasefire, saying a "mutual and simultaneous" truce would begin at 2am local time (11pm BST), though leaders also cautioned swift action could be taken if it was breached.

A statement from the Israel Cabinet said they had agreed to a proposal made by Egypt to halt military attacks.

UK prime minister Boris Johnson said on Friday in a tweet: “Leaders in the region must now work to find a durable solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that prevents terrorism, ends the cycle of violence and delivers a sustainable and just peace.”

From Tel Aviv, Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo explores if a ceasefire will bring an end to the conflict - for now

A statement read: "The Political Security Cabinet unanimously accepted the recommendation of all security officials, the chief of staff, the head of the Shin Bet [internal security agency], the head of the Mossad [foreign intelligence] and the head of the National Security Council, to accept the Egyptian initiative for a bilateral unconditional ceasefire, which will take effect at a later date.

"The chief of staff, the military echelon and the head of the GSS reviewed before the ministers Israel's great achievements in the campaign, some of which were unprecedented.

"The political echelon emphasises that the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign."

Benjamin Netanyahu's office has announced a ceasefire with Gaza. Credit: AP

The fighting, the worst Israeli-Palestinian violence since 2014, has killed at least 230 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel.

Medical supplies, water and fuel for electricity are running low in territory, on which Israel and Egypt imposed the blockade after the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in 2007.

Mr Netanyahu had previously said, before the ceasefire was agreed: "I am determined to continue this operation until its goal is achieved - to restore peace and security to you, the citizens of Israel."

The decision came after heavy US pressure to halt the offensive and a call from US President Joe Biden for “significant de-escalation” of the fighting.

US President Joe Biden hailed the impending ceasefire. Credit: AP

Mr Biden hailed the impending ceasefire in the fighting between Israel and Hamas, saying he sees a “genuine opportunity” toward the larger goal of building a lasting peace in the Middle East.

Biden credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the cease-fire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an “hour by hour” effort to stop the bloodletting.

“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said. “My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that.”

Watch: A guide to what's behind the recent escalation in violence

An official from the Palestinian militant Hamas group says Israel’s declaration of a ceasefire represents a defeat for Mr Netanyahu and “a victory to the Palestinian people”.

Ali Barakeh, a member of Hamas’ Arab and Islamic relations bureau, told The Associated Press that the militants will remain on alert until they hear from mediators who have been working for days between Hamas and Israel.

Hamas officials haves said that they have been contacted by officials from Russia, Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to reach a truce with Israel.

A Palestinian walks by a building hit by an Israeli airstrike in Gaza City Credit: Hatem Moussa/AP

He added that once Hamas hears back from the mediators, its leadership will hold discussions and will make an announcement after that.

Since fighting broke out on May 10, Israel has launched hundreds of airstrikes that it says have targeted Hamas’ infrastructure, including a vast tunnel network.

A Palestinian man inspects the damage at a house destroyed by an Israeli air strike in Gaza City Credit: Khalil Hamra/AP

Hamas and other militant groups embedded in residential areas have fired more than 4,000 rockets at Israeli cities, with hundreds falling short and most of the rest intercepted.

At least 230 Palestinians have been killed, according to Gaza health officials, while 12 people in Israel have died.