Militant groups in the Gaza Strip have agreed to stop firing missiles at Israel at midnight on Saturday (0230 IST), saying they hope Israel will follow suit and stop attacks against them, senior Palestinian officials said.
The unilateral cease-fire is aimed at ending an Israeli offensive in the Gaza Strip that began June 28, three days after militants raided an Israeli army post, killing two soldiers and capturing one, 19 year old Cpl Gilad Shalit, the officials said on condition of anonymity because the agreement was reached at a closed meeting.
More than 100 Palestinians have been killed since then in daily attacks by Israeli warplanes, tanks and artillery in the offensive, and the militants have fired hundreds of homemade rockets at southern Israel.
The agreement was reached in Gaza City following meetings sponsored by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh aimed at finding a way out of the crisis in Gaza, the officials said. Several Palestinian militant groups attended, including Haniyeh's Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which have been blamed for many of the rocket attacks on southern Israel, the officials said.
The Israeli Defense Forces said it had no immediate comment about the militants' cease-fire.
In fighting in Gaza on Friday, four people were killed _ a Hamas activist and three relatives _ in an explosion at his home in Gaza City, hospital officials said. Palestinians said the house was hit by an Israeli tank shell. The Israeli military denied using artillery or tanks.
On Thursday, Israeli aircraft carried out a series of strikes against Palestinian militants in the Mughazi refugee camp in central Gaza, the army said.