Israel-Palestinian ceasefire comes into force

A "mutual and simultaneous" cease-fire deal between Israel and Hamas reached with Egypt mediation took effect at 2 a.m. on May 21. (23.00GMT Thursday)

The Israeli Security Cabinet voted to end attacks on the blockaded Gaza Strip that began May 10 and accept the cease-fire, according to media reports.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri also confirmed the cease-fire deal. Israeli warplanes continued to attack the Gaza Strip just one hour before the truce. The armed wing of the Islamic Jihad Movement fired rockets at regions around Gaza in retaliation for the attacks.

Celebrations were heard on Gaza streets in the minutes after the truce began as cars honked their horns and some guns were fired in the air, AFP journalists said, while in the occupied West Bank, joyful crowds also took to the streets.

U.S. President Joe Biden welcomed the deal.

"I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I'm committed to working toward it," Biden said at the White House, hailing Egypt's role in brokering the agreement.

A statement from Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office said the security cabinet had "unanimously accepted the recommendation of all of the security officials ... to accept the Egyptian initiative for a mutual ceasefire without pre-conditions".

Hamas and Islamic Jihad also confirmed the ceasefire in statements.

"This is the euphoria of victory," said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas figure, in front of a crowd of thousands of Palestinians who had gathered in the streets to celebrate.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said Thursday he would be "prepared at any time to go to Israel, to the Middle East, if that would serve the purpose of moving beyond the violence and helping to...

Continue reading on: