JERUSALEM — Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Sunday accepted Egypt’s call for a new 72-hour cease-fire in the Gaza fighting to start at one minute after midnight Monday and for a resumption of Egyptian-mediated negotiations toward a more durable solution for Gaza.
The Israeli government said in a statement that it had accepted the Egyptian cease-fire request. On Sunday evening, Azzam al-Ahmad, the lead Palestinian negotiator in Cairo, said the delegation, which includes Hamas, had notified the Egyptians “that we agreed on the cease-fire based on the Egyptian statement.”
The last cease-fire expired Friday, and Hamas, the Islamic group that dominates Gaza, fired rockets into Israel, prompting Israel to resume its airstrikes.
The Egyptian Foreign Ministry said in a statement that the new, temporary cease-fire was intended to facilitate the flow of humanitarian aid into Gaza and the repair of essential infrastructure and to allow a window for the resumption of “indirect, immediate and continuous negotiations” for a “complete and permanent cease-fire.”
The Palestinian negotiators have remained in Cairo. An Israeli official said the Israeli delegation, which left Cairo on Friday morning, would return Monday if the cease-fire held overnight. Contacts between Israel and Egypt continued by telephone in the meantime.
In the hours before midnight, Palestinian militants and the Israeli military continued to exchange blows, but on a much smaller scale than the fierce fighting of the past month, which claimed more than 1,900 Palestinian lives — a majority of them probably civilians — and killed 67, mostly soldiers, on the Israeli side.
The Israeli military said it struck more than 30 targets in Gaza on Sunday, including what it described as 11 “terror squads,” some of whom were preparing to fire rockets.
At least seven Palestinians were killed Sunday, including four who were killed in two Israeli airstrikes in southern and northern Gaza Strip on Sunday evening. Three of those were killed in an airstrike aimed at a motorcycle in Khan Younis and one was killed in a strike that hit agricultural land near Jabaliya, according to the Health Ministry in Gaza.
Nearly 30 rockets were fired at southern Israel on Sunday, the military added. Several were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome anti-missile defense system, and most fell in open ground, causing no injuries.
Earlier Sunday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had reiterated Israel’s position that it would “not negotiate under fire.”
In remarks broadcast at the start of Israel’s weekly Cabinet meeting, which Netanyahu held at the military’s headquarters in Tel Aviv, he said the military operation was continuing.
“At no stage did we declare its conclusion,” he said.
“The operation will continue until its goal is met: the restoration of quiet for a long period,” he added.
Israel said its military campaign was intended to quell rocket fire from Gaza and destroy Hamas’ network of tunnels, several of which run under the border and have been used for attacks in Israeli territory. Israel has demanded internationally backed measures to prevent Hamas from rearming as part of any longer cease-fire. Hamas is demanding, among other things, a complete lifting of the blockade of Gaza and the free movement of people and goods through its border crossings with Israel and Egypt, along with the establishment of a seaport and an airport.
Members of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo expressed frustration earlier Sunday at what they said was an emphasis by the Egyptian mediators and the Israelis on winning a cease-fire at the expense of longer-term solutions that would end the isolation of Gaza.
Qais Abdel-Karim, of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, one of the factions attending the talks, said it would be a “farce” for the delegation to return with an armistice and little else, given the high civilian death toll and the devastation in Gaza.
“People have been suffering and tolerating all that with the hope that this will lead to the relaxation of lifting of the blockade,” he said.
Abdel-Karim said negotiations would start again Monday morning.
“I am neither optimistic or pessimistic,” he said. “I think that if the situation in Gaza is to stabilize — and for the threat to the region and its security to end — then solutions must be reached to all the issues put forward, including the occupation, including the rebuilding.”
“But to talk of cease-fire without treating these issues is an invitation to resume the conflict, and resume the cyclical outbreak of violence time and again,” he added.