Ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants holds overnight

Questions remain about how long the ceasefire will last following the worst conflict between Israel and Palestinian militants in more than a year, as Global Security Editor Rohit Kachroo reports from Tel Aviv

A ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants held overnight, raising hopes of a fragile peace after three days of fighting.

The truce took effect late on Sunday in a bid to end the latest round of violence in their most serious flare-up in more than a year.

The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire took effect at 11.30pm local time. Israeli strikes and militant rockets continued in the minutes leading up to the beginning of the truce, and Israel said it would “respond strongly” if the cease-fire was violated.

Earlier thousands turned out for the funerals of those killed in Gaza.

Over three days of fighting, 43 Palestinians were killed, including 15 children and four women, and 311 were wounded, the Palestinian Health Ministry said. Five civilians were killed in an Israeli airstrike on a Jihad commander in a refugee camp in southern Gaza on Saturday.

Mourning children during the funeral of Palestinian Tamim Hijazi, who was killed in an Israeli air strike, in the Gaza Strip. Credit: AP

Israeli aircraft have pummelled targets in Gaza since Friday, while the Iran-backed Palestinian Jihad militant group has fired hundreds of rockets at Israel in response.

The flare-up was the worst fighting between Israel and Gaza militant groups since Israel and Gaza's Hamas rulers fought an 11-day war last year.

Israel said it was partially reopening crossings into Gaza for humanitarian needs and would fully open them if calm was maintained.

President Joe Biden said he welcomed the cease-fire between Israel and Gaza-based militants.

Palestinians search through the rubble of a building in which Khaled Mansour, a top Islamic militant was killed after an Israeli airstrike. Credit: AP

Israel launched its operation on Friday with a strike on a leader of the Islamic Jihad, and followed up on Saturday with another targeted strike on a second prominent leader.

The second Islamic Jihad commander, Khaled Mansour, was killed in an airstrike on an apartment building in the Rafah refugee camp in southern Gaza late Saturday, which also killed two other militants and five civilians.

Mansour, the Islamic Jihad commander for southern Gaza, was in the apartment of a member of the group when the missile struck, flattening the three-story building and badly damaging nearby houses.

“Suddenly, without warning, the house next to us was bombed and everything became black and dusty with smoke in the blink of an eye,” said Wissam Jouda, who lives next to the targeted building.

Medics treat a wounded girl at the al Najar hospital. Credit: AP

Ahmed al-Qaissi, another neighbour, said his wife and son were among the wounded, suffering shrapnel injuries. To make way for rescue workers, al-Qaissi agreed to have part of his house demolished.

The Palestinian Health Ministry said more than 250 people were wounded in the violence. Israel says some of the dead were killed by misfired rockets.

Israel says some of the deaths were caused by errant rocket fire, including one incident in the Jebaliya refugee camp in northern Gaza in which six Palestinians were killed on Saturday.

On Sunday, a projectile hit a home in the same area of Jebaliya, killing two men. Palestinians held Israel responsible, while Israel said it was investigating whether the area was hit by an errant rocket.

Israel and Hamas have fought four wars since the group overran the territory in 2007, but Hamas stayed on the sidelines during this conflict, possibly fearing Israeli reprisals and undoing economic understandings with Israel, including Israeli work permits for thousands of Gaza residents, that bolster its control.

Israel has said it took action against the Islamic Jihad militant group because of concrete threats of an imminent attack, but has not provided details.

Israel estimates its airstrikes have killed about 15 militants.

The Israeli army said militants in Gaza fired some 580 rockets toward Israel. The army said its air defenses had intercepted many of them, with two of those shot down being fired toward Jerusalem. Islamic Jihad has fewer fighters and supporters than Hamas.

The body of Palestinian Muhammad Hassouna, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, is prepared for his funeral. Credit: AP

Both groups call for Israel's destruction, but have a different outlook.

Jerusalem is typically a flash point during periods of cross-border fighting between Israel and Gaza.

On Sunday, hundreds of Jews, including firebrand ultra-nationalist lawmaker Itamar Ben Gvir, visited a sensitive holy site in Jerusalem, known to Jews as the Temple Mount and to Muslims as the Noble Sanctuary.

Rockets fired by Palestinian militants toward Israel, in Gaza City. Credit: AP

The visit, under heavy police protection, ended without incident, police said.

Such demonstrative visits by Israeli hard-liners seeking to underscore Israeli claims of sovereignty over contested Jerusalem have sparked violence in the past.

The holy site sits on the fault line of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and is central to rival narratives of Palestinians and Israeli Jews.

The UN Security Council is holding an emergency meeting on Monday in response to the violence. China, which holds the council presidency this month, scheduled the session in response to a request from the United Arab Emirates, which represents Arab nations on the council, as well as China, France, Ireland and Norway.

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