Palestinians celebrate on a street after a ceasefire was announced, in Gaza City August 8, 2022. Image Credit: Reuters

Gaza: Israel and the Islamic Jihad group declared a truce late on Sunday, raising hopes of an end to the most serious flare-up on the Gaza frontier in more than a year.

It was announced in separate statements by Islamic Jihad and then Israel, who both thanked Egypt for mediating the ceasefire.

The three-day clashes echoed preludes to previous Gaza wars, though they were relatively contained as Hamas had so far stayed out.

Gaza officials said 44 Palestinians, almost half of them civilians and including children, had so far been killed. The rockets have threatened much of southern Israel and sent residents in cities including Tel Aviv and Ashkelon to shelters.

Israel launched what it called pre-emptive strikes on Friday against what it anticipated would be an Islamic Jihad attack meant to avenge the arrest of a leader of the group, Bassam Al Saadi. In response, Islamic Jihad fired hundreds of rockets at Israel.

On Sunday, Islamic Jihad extended its range to fire toward Jerusalem in what it described as retaliation for the overnight killing of its southern Gaza commander by Israel - the second such senior officer it has lost in the fighting.

Israel said its Iron Dome interceptor shot down the rockets just west of the city. The military said others had fallen short, causing several Gaza fatalities, while Hamas said all the Palestinian deaths were caused by the Israeli strikes.

In a statement, US President Joe Biden welcomed the truce and called for an investigation into civilian casualties, whether they were caused by Israeli strikes or by Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza.

"I thank Egyptian President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi and the senior Egyptian officials who played a central role in this diplomacy as well as Amir Sheikh Tamim Bin Hamad Al Thani of Qatar and his team for helping to bring these hostilities to an end," Biden said in a White House statement.