For the second time in two weeks, Hamas and Israel have reached on Saturday an agreement to restore calm after tensions on the Gaza Strip left several four Palestinians and one Israeli killed.
The ceasefire agreement was reached with help from the Egyptian side and United Nations efforts, Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters news agency.
Israeli officials did not immediately comment on Hamas’ announcement; however there was a military activity reported in Gaza in the early hours of Saturday, especially that the Israeli military have announced that an officer was killed.
The United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, will issue an urgent appeal for calm.
“Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now!” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed.”
On Friday, Israel launched airstrikes on Gaza killing four people.
On Thursday, Israel’s Parliament passed a controversial law declaring that only Jews have a right to national self-determination in Israel. The law is backed by the right-wing government and was passed by majority. The bill says that “Israel is the historic homeland of the Jewish people” and “the right to exercise national self-determination in the State of Israel is unique to the Jewish people.” It also downgrades Arabic from an official language alongside Hebrew to a “special” one, and declares Jerusalem the united capital of Israel.
The law also instructs the state to preserve the Jewish heritage within the diaspora, and contains passages about national holidays, the flag, the anthem, and making the Hebrew calendar the official calendar.
Israel has 1.9 million Arab citizens, or about 21% of the total population of 9 million. Another 5% of the population consists of non-Arab Christians or other ethnic groups.
The law also says that the Israeli state views “the development of Jewish settlements as a national value and will act to encourage and promote its establishment.”
Settlements in the occupied West Bank are viewed as illegal under the international law and a major impediment to a viable Palestinian state in the future.
In a response to this, Al-Azhar and Egypt’s Dar Al-Ifta condemned the law, describing it as racist, while the Arab affairs committee in the Egyptian Parliament described the law as a step to hinder the peace process.