Israel’s bombardment of Gaza could soon end after the country’s security cabinet approved a ceasefire agreement amid mounting international pressure to de-escalate the deadly conflict.
Even as the bombs kept dropping on the 11th day of hostilities, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu scheduled the meeting of his security cabinet to decide on the truce brokered by Egypt.
It comes as the UN Secretary General António Guterres described the situation as “hell on earth” for Palestinian children and said he was “deeply shocked” by the Israeli military’s continued bombing of Gaza.
The Israeli cabinet confirmed its decision for a “mutual and unconditional” truce on Friday morning (Australian time) but has not announced the time it will come into effect.
Earlier a Hamas official said it was due to start at 2am local time (Friday morning Australian time) which was three hours after the truce announcement.
Israel’s Security Cabinet statement said its decision was unanimous.
“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,” it said.
“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 emphasizes that the reality on the ground will determine the continuation of the campaign.”
US president Joe Biden responded to the news and confirmed Hamas had agreed to the ceasefire which would take effect in a couple of hours.
Earlier, however, the cross-border hostilities continued, with Israel’s aerial assault continuing overnight as it kept up its military offensive.
Israel’s army smashed targets that included the house of a Hamas commander in Khan Yunis, a Hamas arms factory and rocket launchers.
The military also said it had “neutralised” an extensive tunnel system dug by Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip which it said was built over five years to move ammunition, fighters and food within the coastal strip.
More rockets were fired by Palestinians towards Israeli towns after midnight on Thursday.
According to the Israeli army, 4070 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip in Israel’s direction over the past week and a half.
After 10 days of fighting, the death toll included more than 220 Palestinians and 12 people in Israel while tens of thousands of Gaza residents have fled their homes.
‘Someone else’s turd’: Barnaby Joyce
As world leaders called on Israel to stop the fight, former deputy prime minister Barnaby Joyce said Australia should not get involved and likened the conflict to a “turd”.
Amid reports of growing anti-Semitic attacks overseas, Mr Joyce said he did not want to see any spillover of the conflict between communities in Australia.
“I don’t want their problems in our streets, whether it is Catholic/Protestant, a Yugoslav issue, a Sudan issue, its on the other side of the world. We have enough problems closer to home,” Mr Joyce said on the ABC’s Q+A on Thursday night.
“If I get engrossed in Palestinian/Israeli politics, I take my mind off here.
“I don’t want to see someone else’s turd in my toilet and if you come to our country … flush it.”
Mr Joyce told host Q+A Hamish Macdonald it was not up to Australia to get involved in the dispute.
“What exactly do I do?” He asked Hamish Macdonald.
“Do I go over there and say to Benjamin Netanyahu, ‘stop’?
“Do we go to Hamas and try to explain to people who are basically unelected that they’ve got to stop sending missiles randomly into people’s neighbourhoods to kill them? What is exactly my role?
“And do you really think that either Hamas or Benjamin Netanyahu give a flying toss about what Australia thinks?”
Mr Joyce said wars for the holy land have been fought for thousands of years and no outside countries could end the tension.
“This is a conflict that’s been going for as long as you and I, probably back 1,000 years, probably past that,” he said.
“It has to be their epiphany that they have to stop killing each other.”
-with AAP and ABC