Both Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza must refrain from further violence if they want to prevent the outbreak of a fourth Gaza war, UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov tweeted on Thursday morning.
He has been in Cairo working with the Egyptians to bring Israel and the Palestinians in Gaza back from the brink of war.
"#Egypt and the #UN worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in and around #Gaza from leading to #war. The coming hours and days will be critical. ALL must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The #MiddleEast does not need more wars,” Mladenov tweeted.
It appeared on Thursday morning that both the UN and Egypt had secured a restoration of calm, after two days of fighting between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza and the IDF. The violence was sparked by the Israeli assassination of PIJ leader Bahaa Abu al-Ata on Tuesday morning. During the two days of fighting, Palestinians launched more than 400 rockets at Israel, and the IDF killed some 26 Palestinians, mostly PIJ members.
Since the PIJ is an Iranian backed terror group, it cannot arrive at a formal ceasefire with Israel, because such a formal arrangement would also imply recognition.
A cessation of hostilities between Israel and a terror group is most often described as a restoration of calm. The details of these ceasefires are often leaked through the media and are rarely issued or confirmed by the Israeli government.
The best way to measure whether a restoration of calm is in effect is through the sudden cessation of violence. The sudden absence of rocket fire on Thursday morning indicated that the reports were correct. This was followed by an IDF confirmation of calm.
An Israeli official said that a restoration of calm could only be measured by the facts on the ground, clarifying that no concessions has been made to the Islamic Jihad. The operative policy remains in place: "We will harm those who harm us," the official said.
"Israel achieved its operational objectives. Islamic Jihad was significantly harmed, infrastructures were destroyed and over 20 terrorists were targeted [and killed]," the official said.
The Palestinian Sawa news agency reported that under the terms of the arrangement reached in Cairo, Palestinians would "maintain peaceful Marches of Returns" and Israel in turn would put an "end to assassinations" and would not respond violently to the border protestors.