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Biden thanks Sisi for ‘central role’ in Gaza ceasefire; calls for probe into civilian casualties

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“I thank President Abdel-Fattah El-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 statement released by the White House on Sunday.

“The US administration has worked over the past 72 hours with officials from Israel, the Palestinian Authority, Egypt, Qatar, Jordan, and others throughout the region to encourage a swift resolution to the conflict, he added.

The US president said “the reports of civilian casualties in Gaza are a tragedy, whether by Israeli strikes against Islamic Jihad positions or the dozens of Islamic Jihad rockets that reportedly fell inside Gaza.”

“My administration supports a timely and thorough investigation into all of these reports,” he said, “calling on all parties to fully implement the ceasefire, and to ensure fuel and humanitarian supplies are flowing into Gaza as the fighting subsides.”

He also said that his support for “Israel’s security is long-standing and unwavering—including its right to defend itself against attacks.”

He added that Israelis and Palestinians “deserve to live safely and securely and to enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity, and democracy.”

Biden also stressed that his administration will remain engaged with Israeli and Palestinian leaders to support this vision and to implement the initiatives launched during his recent visit to Israel and the West Bank to improve the quality of life of Palestinians and Israelis alike.

The ceasefire came into effect on Sunday at 11:30 local time (8:30 GMT) after Egypt conducted intense communications with both sides to contain the escalation.

Fighting between Israel and the Islamic Jihad started in Gaza on Friday after Israel assassinated prominent Islamic Jihad leader Taysir Al-Jaabari in Gaza through airstrikes, ending a year of calm in the enclave, and prompting the group to retaliate.

The Islamic Jihad launched hundreds of rockets against Israeli cities from Gaza in retaliation.

Both Israel and the Islamic Jihad said that they had agreed to the Cairo-brokered ceasefire proposal.

Israel on Monday said it was partially reopening crossings into Gaza for humanitarian needs and would fully open them if “calm” was maintained.

The three-day Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip left 43 Palestinians dead, including 15 children and four women, and 311 wounded, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Two million Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been living under an Israeli siege since 2007.

In May 2021, Egypt also brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions after a devastating Israeli onslaught on the strip left hundreds killed and injured and destroyed dozens of residential and commercial buildings.