Rockets were fired toward southern Israel, just minutes after a ceasefire reached between Israel and Palestinian Islamic Jihad took effect on Sunday evening, amid efforts to end Operation Breaking Dawn after three days.
"If the ceasefire will be violated, the State of Israel reserves the right to respond forcefully," National Public Diplomacy Directorate head Lior Haiat said. "We will not let any factor violate the routine life of the residents of the State of Israel."
Israel thanks Egypt for mediating, Haiat said.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad said earlier: “We welcome the Egyptian efforts, and we affirm our right to respond to any Israeli aggression."
The Israel-Islamic Jihad ceasefire
The Gazan terrorist organization launched a barrage of rockets at southern Israel in the half hour before the ceasefire took effect.
An Egyptian official source also said Cairo would work to release senior Islamic Jihad member Bassam al-Saadi, who was arrested last week, as soon as possible, and commit to working to release administrative detainee Khalil Awawda and transfer him for medical treatment, according to Egypt's official news agency.
An Israeli diplomatic source said that the only conditions to which Jerusalem would agree, one source said, was for both sides to stop shooting.
The ceasefire would mean the same situation as on August 1, except that some senior Islamic Jihad terrorists are dead or arrested, the source said.
Officials from Islamic Jihad also demanded that Israel halt its security crackdown on the organization’s members, especially in the northern West Bank.
Hamas urging for a ceasefire
Earlier, Hamas leaders were reported to have exerted pressure on Islamic Jihad to agree to a truce that would end the current round of fighting with Israel.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that “around the clock” efforts were being made to “protect our people and stop the [Israeli] aggression.”
Haniyeh contacted Egyptian, Qatari and UN mediators as part of the efforts to achieve a ceasefire.
He also phoned Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Michail Bogdanov and discussed with him the latest developments in the Gaza Strip and the need for an immediate cessation of the Israeli military strikes, according to a statement by Hamas.
Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi said on Saturday that his country was working to end the latest violence between Israel and Gaza.
Sisi said his country “made contacts with everyone around the clock in order for things to not get out of control and for fighting not to take place.”
"[Egypt has] made contacts with everyone around the clock in order for things to not get out of control and for fighting not to take place."Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi
In addition, an Egyptian intelligence delegation headed by Major General Ahmed Abdelkhaliq arrived in Israel on Saturday.
Senior Islamic Jihad official Mohammed al-Hindi confirmed that Egyptian mediators had contacted his organization to discuss ways of ending the fighting.
Abu Hamza, spokesperson for Islamic Jihad’s Al-Quds Brigades, said on the third day of the fighting that his group has still not used all its rocket capabilities.
He said that Islamic Jihad was still capable of inflicting pain on Israel. He also called on all Palestinians in the West Bank and the Arab Israelis to join the fight against Israel by launching a “massive uprising” to drive the “enemy from all of Palestine.”
Israel and Operation Breaking Dawn
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said earlier Sunday that “this operation will continue as long as necessary.”
“The IDF continues to strike terrorist targets and operatives, and to thwart rocket-launching squads. We are acting in a precise and responsible way to minimize harm to civilians."Prime Minister Yair Lapid
He commended the IDF and Shin Bet for the strike on senior Islamic Jihad terrorist Khaled Mansour, calling it “an extraordinary achievement.”
“The IDF continues to strike terrorist targets and operatives, and to thwart rocket-launching squads,” Lapid said. “We are acting in a precise and responsible way to minimize harm to civilians.”
Cabinet ministers were sent talking points from the Prime Ministers Office that “Israel does not want a broader campaign in Gaza, but is prepared for any developments. This [operation] may go on for several days.”
Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Ronen Bar told Security Cabinet ministers overnight Saturday that Israel met most of the objectives it set at the outset of the operation in Gaza on Friday afternoon. Prior to the Israeli airstrikes, residents of Israeli towns near Gaza were in lockdown for three days amid threats of an escalation by Islamic Jihad.
Among the topics in the Security Cabinet briefing was Israel’s hope to avoid Islamic Jihad drawing Hamas into the fight, which is among the reasons that Israel’s targets for the operation have been very narrow.
Ukrainian Ambassador to Israel Yevgen Korniychuk relayed his support for Israel, saying that "as a Ukrainian whose country is under a very brutal attack by its neighbor, I feel great sympathy towards the Israeli public.
"Attacks on women and children are reprehensible," Korniychuk added. "Terrorism and malicious attacks against civilians are the daily reality of Israelis and Ukrainians and this appalling threat must be stopped immediately."
Ukraine's statement came in contrast to an earlier one from Russia saying that Israel provoked the violence in Gaza and expressing "deep concern" about the humanitarian situation in Gaza.
German Ambassador to Israel Steffen Seibert said his country "strongly condemns the PIJ's attacks and calls for them to stop. Israel, like any other state has the right to self-defense."
EU Ambassador to Israel Dimiter Tzantchev tweeted that he is "deeply concerned over the continuing escalation in and around Gaza [and] hoping for a speedy and comprehensive ceasefire. The EU regrets all loss of life of uninvolved civilians, especially children. We unequivocally condemn the indiscriminate rocket fire by the PIJ terrorist group."
Despite a recent rapprochement between Israel and Turkey, Anakara released two statements in as many days condemning "airstrikes carried out by Israel on Gaza" and calling for an end to hostilities.
"It is unacceptable that civilians, including children, have lost their lives during the attack," the Turkish Foreign Ministry said on Saturday.
On Sunday, Turkey repeated the condemnation, adding a statement against Israeli visits to the Temple Mount.
"Israeli parliamentarian Itamar Ben-Gvir and fanatical Jewish groups raided [the] Al-Aksa Mosque under the protection of Israeli police," Ankara stated. "These provocative acts that constitute a clear violation of the status quo in Al-Haram Al-Sharif and the Al-Aksa Mosque will further escalate tensions in the region."
Hungarian Minister of State for Security Policy Péter Sztáray "condemn[ed] the terrorist attacks against Israel, values Israel's efforts in the fight against terrorism highly and calls for a meeting of the EU-Israel Association Council as soon as possible."
The Austrian Foreign Ministry tweeted: "We utterly condemn the firing of rockets against Israel and the indiscriminate targeting of civilians. We fully stand by Israel‘s right to self-defense and are concerned about a further escalation, leading to the loss of any civilian lives."
The Palestinian Authority's views
The Palestinian Authority, for its part, said that PA President Mahmoud Abbas was pursuing his efforts with regional and international parties to “stop the Israeli escalation targeting the Palestinian people and their Islamic and Christian holy sites.
PA Presidential spokesman Nabil Abu Rudaineh called on the UN Security Council to “assume its responsibilities to end the aggression.” He urged the US administration and the international community to intervene to stop the fighting “before it’s too late.”
PA Prime Minister Mohammad Shtayyeh said during a press conference in Ramallah that Abbas has instructed the Palestinian envoy to the UN to request a special session of the Security Council to stop the Israeli military offensive in the Gaza Strip.
Shtayyeh called on the Security Council to issue a resolution calling for providing protection for the Palestinian people. “We want more than a condemnation from the council,” he said. “This is the third day of the Israeli aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip, which has resulted in the martyrdom of 31 people and hundreds of injuries, as well as a lot of destruction.”
Shtayyeh criticized visits by Jews to the Temple Mount and Israeli military “incursions” into Jenin Refugee Camp and said that these “crimes will be added to the files submitted to the International Criminal Court.”