Palestinians inspect a location hit during an Israeli air strike in Gaza City on May 20, 2021.
Mahmud Hams | AFP | Getty Images
WASHINGTON – Israel's security cabinet voted in favor of a provisional ceasefire on Thursday after 11 days of fighting with Hamas in Israel and the Gaza Strip.
Speaking to Arab television broadcaster Al-Mayadeen, a Hamas official said the group had "received guarantees from the intermediaries" that the Israeli air strikes on Gaza would stop and the ceasefire would begin at 2:00 am. Friday local time.
In a speech on Thursday evening, President Joe Biden thanked Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his help in negotiating the ceasefire.
"I believe the Palestinians and Israelis alike deserve to live safely and securely and equally enjoy freedom, prosperity and democracy," said Biden of the White House.
"My administration will continue our calm, relentless diplomacy to this end. I believe we have a real chance to make progress and I am determined to work for it," he added.
US President Joe Biden speaks ahead of the entry into force of a ceasefire agreed by Israel and Hamas during a brief appearance at Cross Hall in the White House in Washington on May 20, 2021.
Jonathan Ernst | Reuters
The news follows a call on Wednesday between Biden and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. During the call, Biden said he expected "significant de-escalation" of the violence, according to the White House report.
It was their fourth conversation since the outbreak of violence between Israel and Hamas, a Palestinian-Islamic political party with an armed wing of the same name that controls the Gaza Strip.
The tone from Washington to Tel Aviv has grown impatient in recent days as the death toll in Gaza from Israeli air strikes surpassed 200, including more than 100 women and children. In Israel, 12 people were killed by rockets fired by Hamas on Thursday afternoon.
The latest round of fighting was the worst outbreak of violence since the war between Israel and Hamas in 2014.
The White House has followed what it calls "calm, intense diplomacy" behind the scenes.
"We have received over 60 calls from the president downwards to senior leaders in Israel, the Palestinian Authority and other leaders in the region since the conflict began," White House deputy press secretary Karine Jean-Pierre told reporters on Wednesday.
"The President has been doing this for a long time, for decades, he believes this is the approach we need to take," she added.
A demolished 6-story building in the Al-Rimal neighborhood houses libraries, youth centers, training courses for university students and a mosque that was bombed by Israeli planes during raids in Gaza City, Gaza, on May 18, 2021.
Momen Faiz | NurPhoto | Getty Images
Biden appeared unwilling to publicly pressure Netanyahu to stop air strikes on what Israel says are military targets embedded in civilian neighborhoods in Gaza.
This has led to progressive Democrats in Congress and US allies abroad calling on the President to take a more visible role and put more diplomatic pressure on Israel, which is heavily dependent on the United States for weapons and military equipment.
In Tel Aviv on Wednesday, Netanyahu briefed foreign diplomats and ambassadors on the increasing violence and reiterated previous claims that the Israeli military "is trying to attack those who attack us with great precision".
"There is no army in the world that does more than the Israeli army, the Israeli security services and the Israeli intelligence service to prevent collateral damage," said Netanyahu.