Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire in Gaza

Israeli Cabinet approves cease-fire in Gaza

Shafaq News/ Israeli media say Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Security Cabinet has approved a unilateral cease-fire to halt an 11-day military operation in the Gaza Strip.

The decision came after heavy U.S. pressure to halt the offensive.

It was not immediately clear when the truce was to take effect. The public broadcaster Kan said the fighting was to halt immediately, while other TV channels said it would go into effect at 2 a.m.

There was no immediate reaction from Hamas.

"The last few hours before the official announcement of the ceasefire are usually the most dangerous, as Israel intensifies its air strikes and the Palestinian armed factions escalate their rocket fire, Each side wants to be able to say we fired the last bullet," BBC correspondent in Gaza says.

Earlier, a senior Hamas official has told the Associated Press that ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants is expected to go ahead within the next 24 hours.

The fighting between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza erupted on 10 May after weeks of spiralling tensions.

One of the main triggers was escalating clashes between Palestinians and Israeli police at a holy hilltop compound in East Jerusalem. The site is revered by both Muslims and Jews.

Hamas, the Islamist group that rules Gaza, demanded Israel remove police from there and the nearby predominantly Arab district of Sheikh Jarrah, where Palestinian families face eviction by Jewish settlers.

When its ultimatum went unheeded, Hamas launched rockets. Israel responded with air strikes on Gaza.

Palestinian anger had already been stoked by weeks of rising tension in East Jerusalem, inflamed by a series of confrontations with police since the start of Ramadan in mid-April.

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