Israeli troops have arrested 55 Palestinian “terror operatives” across the West Bank, hours after a truce came into effect in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli military said the swoop was related to “recent terrorist and violent activity” in the West Bank, which has seen days of widespread protests and clashes over Israel’s relentless bombing campaign targeting Hamas in Gaza.
“A total of 55 terror operatives, who are affiliated with different terror groups have been detained,” a statement said, with public radio saying it included members of Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
“Among those arrested were a number of senior level operatives.”
The violence in and around Gaza ended when an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement came into force.
It appears to be holding, and overnight thousands of Gaza residents poured onto the streets to celebrate, waving flags and setting off fireworks.
The agreement included a promise to end hostilities by both sides after more than eight days of conflict.
ABC correspondent Matt Brown is in Gaza and said the morning after the truce was “mercifully quiet”.
“There is the constant buzz of an Israeli surveillance drone overhead, but since the celebratory gunfire died down in the late hours of the night, there have been no explosions that I’m aware of and at the moment the truce does appear to be holding,” he said.
The Israeli army says that during the eight-day conflict, it hit more than 1,500 targets and destroyed thousands of rockets while Gaza militants fired more than 1,500 rockets at Israel, whose vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted more than 420 of them.
In total, 155 Palestinians died in Israel’s bombing campaign, and five Israelis, including a soldier, were killed by rocket fire.
The accord calls on Israel to “stop all hostilities… in the land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals” and urges the Palestinian factions to end “rocket attacks and all attacks along the border”.
Israel would be obliged to ease restrictions on Gaza residents under the deal which specified that “procedures of implementation” would be put in place 24 hours after the ceasefire comes into effect on opening Gaza’s border crossings and allowing the free movement of people and goods.
“Of course the Gaza Strip, a narrow little stretch of land… and it’s surrounded on the west by an Israeli naval blockade and then on the north and the east by the Israeli military,” Brown told PM.
“Only in the south is there a very short little border with Egypt which in the past was never used for goods transfers.
“It’s a place where people have come and gone for medical treatment into Egypt or other countries or off to do the Hajj.
“So all of the goods in the past that were significant coming into the Gaza Strip came in through Israel, and when Hamas seized control here in 2007, Israel tightened already existing restrictions on goods coming in and out.
“And importantly, it’s not just goods coming in – a bit over half the number of goods that used to come in before Hamas took control are coming in now. It’s goods getting out. There were plans for Gaza to become a little bit of an export industry here.”
- Israel should stop all hostilities in the Gaza Strip’s land, sea and air, including incursions and targeting of individuals.
- All Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks and all attacks along the border.
- Opening the crossings and facilitating the movements of people and transfer of goods and refraining from restricting residents’ free movements and targeting residents in border areas and procedures of implementation shall be dealt with after 24 hours from the start of the ceasefire.
- Other matters as may be requested shall be addressed.
- Setting up the zero hour for the ceasefire understanding to enter into effect.
- Egypt shall receive assurances from each party that the party commits to what was agreed upon.
- Each party shall commit itself not to perform any acts that would breach this understanding. In case of any observations Egypt as the sponsor of this understanding shall be informed to follow up.