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An Israeli soldier stands on top of a tank near the border with Gaza in Southern Israel on Wednesday. Photo: Amir Levy/Getty Images)

Israeli and Palestinian officials reached a ceasefire on Thursday following days of deadly cross-border fighting that began after Israel killed a senior Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) commander in an airstrike.

The latest: An Israel Defense Forces (IDF) spokesman confirmed the ceasefire in Gaza had come into effect. Israeli officials said earlier that forces had "achieved all the goals of its military operation."

  • Israel didn't concede anything to the Islamic Jihad and that developments on the ground in Gaza will determine if the ceasefire holds, officials said earlier. "There is no change in policy — whoever tries to attack us will be hit," they said.
  • Israel's goal was to create division between the PIJ and Hamas so that the latter would not join the fighting — and this was achieved, the IDF spokesman said.
  • The codename Israel gave the operation against the Islamic Jihad was "black belt," he said, and the operation and killing of PIJ commander Baha Abu al-Ata on Tuesday had surprised the terror organization.
  • The timing of the operation was determined due to a window that was created with no threats for possible Iranian attacks from Syria, the spokesman said.

What they're saying: UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who was involved in the ceasefire mediation said Thursday morning that Egypt and the United Nations "worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in and around Gaza from leading to war."

  • Mladenov added that the coming hours and days will be critical. "All must show maximum restraint and do their part to prevent bloodshed. The Middle East does not need more wars," he said.

The big picture: The fighting erupted after Israel killed the PIJ commander Abu al-Ata early on Tuesday. A total of 34 people were killed in Gaza, 20 of them Islamic Jihad operatives, official figures show.

Go deeper: Tensions rise after Israeli airstrike kills Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

Mike Allen, author of AM
3 hours ago - World

Courage vs. coddling with China

Peng Shuai of China serves during the China Open in Beijing in 2017. Photo: Andy Wong/AP

The women's professional tennis tour suspended tournaments in China Wednesday out of concern for Peng Shuai, on the same day that a top business voice made excuses for Beijing.

Why it matters: Ahead of February's Winter Olympics in Beijing, some sports figures are taking on the regime — while Big Business shrinks from confrontation with the world's second-largest economy.

3 hours ago - Sports

What to know about the first MLB lockout since 1995

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

Hope you enjoyed the recent flurry of free-agent activity, because it's likely the last non-lockout-related MLB news for a while.

Driving the news: The owners locked out the players after the collective bargaining agreement expired at midnight last night, leading to MLB's ninth work stoppage — and first since 1995.

Biden extends mask mandates for travelers into 2022

President Biden delivers remarks at the White House on Dec. 1. Photo: Anna Moneymaker via Getty Images

President Biden will announce new testing protocols for international travelers on Thursday and extend masking requirements through March as the U.S. prepares to fight the Omicron variant this winter, according to senior administration officials.

Driving the news: The U.S. will tighten pre-departure testing protocols starting early next week by requiring all inbound international travelers to take COVID-19 tests within one day of their departure rather than three.