Sunday, August 19News That Matters

Hamas and Israel reportedly reach ceasefire after violent exchange near Gaza left 3 dead




Gaza Firing Rockets at IsraelAriel Schalit

  • Israel and Hamas reportedly reached an uneasy ceasefire
    after a fiery night of rockets and bombings left three people
    dead and several others injured in Israel and near
    Gaza.
  • A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child
    were killed in Israeli airstrikes, while seven Israelis were
    wounded by Gaza rocket fire.
  • The United Nations and Egypt are trying to broker a
    truce to prevent another all-out conflict.


GAZA/SDEROT, Israel (Reuters) – Israel and Hamas, the Islamist
group that rules the Gaza Strip, agreed on a truce on Thursday,
two Palestinian officials said, an understanding that would end
an escalation in fighting that has drawn mutual threats of
war.

There was no formal comment from Israel, but an Israeli official
who spoke on condition of anonymity denied a cease-fire had been
reached. Israel rarely acknowledges reaching any such agreement
with Hamas, a group it designates as a terrorist organization and
with which it has fought three wars in the past decade.

A surge in cross-border rockets and air strikes in recent weeks
have prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a
truce to prevent another all-out conflict.

On Wednesday night and Thursday, Israeli aircraft struck more
than 150 targets in Gaza and Palestinian militants fired scores
of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel,
escalating fighting despite the ongoing truce talks.

“Egyptian efforts managed to restore calm between Palestinian
factions and Israel that will end the current escalation,” a
Palestinian official, who also spoke on condition of anonymity,
said. “Palestinian factions will respect calm as long as Israel
does,” he told Reuters.

A second Palestinian official with knowledge of the talks said
the cease-fire would begin at 2045 GMT.

Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee, a
smaller faction in Gaza, said on his Facebook page: “Upon
Egyptian and international efforts, a ceasefire between
Palestinian resistance began conditional on the commitment of the
occupation.”

Hours earlier, after the long-range Palestinian missile attack –
the first of its kind since a 2014 war, Israeli air strikes had
resumed after a short lull, flattening a multi-storey building
that the Israeli military described as a Hamas headquarters.

A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were
killed in the Israeli attacks overnight on Wednesday, as was a
Hamas militant, Gaza medical officials said. Hundreds of people
took part in the funeral for the woman and child.

The Israeli military said seven people were wounded by
Palestinian rockets and mortars that hit southern Israel.

Ambulance sirens echoed through the night in Gaza, where families
huddled at home as powerful explosions thundered through the
strip. Across the border rocket warning sirens sounded almost
non-stop from sunset on Wednesday in Israeli towns and villages
where residents sheltered in bunkers.

The Israeli military said its aircraft had struck more than 150
Hamas targets overnight, while more than 180 Palestinian rockets
and mortars hit southern Israel.

Twenty-five miles from the border, air raid sirens sounded in
Israel’s main southern city, Beersheba.

Israeli Army Radio said Palestinian militants had fired a Grad
missile capable of reaching Israel’s heartland. Police said they
found its remnants in an open area on the outskirts of the city
of 200,000 people and that no one was hurt

Israel responded by hitting the multi-storey building, first with
small bombs apparently so that people would evacuate, then
flattening it with a huge blast that shook the city and raised
clouds of dust and smoke.

Residents said the building had served mainly as a cultural
center. Local health officials said 18 bystanders were wounded by
the blast. Hamas denied using the facility.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened his security
cabinet late into the night on Thursday. A statement issued by
his office before reports a truce had been reached said the forum
instructed the military to “keep acting with force against the
terrorists”.

The U.S. State Department condemned the launching of missile
attacks into Israel.

“We’ve seen reports that 180 or so rocket attacks have taken
place, shot from Gaza into Israel, and we fully support Israel’s
right to defend itself and to take actions to prevent
provocations of that nature,” State Department spokeswoman
Heather Nauert said.

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