Gaza border quiet after ceasefire

Gaza border quiet after ceasefire

Gaza City - Gaza's streets were filled with morning shoppers and children went to class.

By Reuters

Published: Wed 30 May 2018, 9:39 PM

Last updated: Wed 30 May 2018, 11:48 PM

The Israel-Gaza border fell quiet on Wednesday under an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire after the most intense flareup of hostilities between Palestinians and Israel since a 2014 war.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad activists fired dozens of rockets and mortar bombs at Israel throughout Tuesday and overnight, to which Israel responded with tank and air strikes on more than 50 targets in the enclave.
There were no reports of further fighting after Palestinian and Israeli attacks in the early hours of Wednesday, and both sides appeared to back away from a slide towards a new war after weeks of violence along the border.
Schools opened as usual in Israeli towns near the frontier where rocket warning sirens sounded frequently on Tuesday. Gaza's streets were filled with morning shoppers and children went to class.
A Palestinian official said Egyptian mediation led to a ceasefire, but the terms of the "understanding" did not go beyond "a restoration of calm by both sides".
"After the resistance succeeded in confronting the (Israeli) aggression ... there was a lot of mediation in the past hours," Hamas' deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil Al Hayya, said, in a nod to Egypt's efforts.
"An agreement was reached to return to the (2014) ceasefire understandings in the Gaza Strip. The resistance factions will abide by it as long as the Occupation does the same," Hayya said in a statement.
Israel stopped short of officially confirming any formal truce with Hamas and Islamic Jihad.
But it launched no new attacks on Wednesday and signalled it was prepared to halt the hostilities if the cross-border barrages ended. Israeli officials declared that militants had been dealt a strong blow.
The Israeli army said three soldiers were wounded by projectiles launched from Gaza. There were no reports of Palestinian casualties in the Israeli strikes.
"Firing has stopped since the morning and Israel conveyed a message that if it resumes, the attacks on Hamas and its associates will be even stronger," a senior Israeli official added.
"It all depends on Hamas," Israeli intelligence minister Israel Katz said on Israel Radio.
Islamic Jihad spokesman Daoud Shehab, acknowledging a ceasefire was in effect, said its success would depend on "whether Israel will refrain from any military escalation against Gaza".
Both Hamas and Islamic Jihad said they fired their salvoes in response to Israel's killing of over 100 Palestinians since March 30 in Gaza border protests.
Islamic Jihad had vowed revenge in response to Israeli tank shelling that killed of three of its men on Sunday after explosives were planted along the Gaza frontier fence.
Violence along the Gaza frontier soared in recent weeks. At least 122 Palestinians were killed by Israeli fire at mass demonstrations along the border, drawing international condemnation for Israel over its use of lethal force.
The demonstrations and surge in violence come amid growing frustration among Palestinians over the prospects for an independent state.

More news from MENA