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Hamas says groups agree to Gaza ceasefire if Israel reciprocates

02 June, 2018, 22:11 | Author: Ted Wilson
  • The site where a mortar shell from Gaza hit a kindergarten in southern Israel

The Israeli military said in a statement that most of the mortars, projectiles and rockets were intercepted by its Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Palestinian security sources said Israeli tanks struck observation points belonging to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

Israel's Navy stopped a boat carrying 17 Palestinians from Gaza that attempted to breach the maritime blockade of the coastal strip.

Israel targeted empty Palestinian military training and weapons sites, while the militants avoided use of powerful longer-range rockets capable of striking deeper into Israel.

Islamic Jihad announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire agreement with Israel.

Mladenov said "the risky escalation" in Gaza can't be divorced from two months of mass protests at the border fence with Israel in which some 110 Palestinians were killed and large numbers injured by Israeli military fire.

Israeli forces have killed at least 121 Palestinians in Gaza since weekly demonstrations started on March 30.

The attacks came after four Palestinians were killed in Israeli attacks on positions of Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip in the past two days.

There were conflicting statements about whether the boats would seek to break Israel's blockade, which now allows them to travel nine nautical miles (16 kilometers) off the coast.

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Their joint statement blamed Israel for targeting their fighters and military positions during the preceding 48 hours, cautioned against attempts to "dictate new equations" on the status quo, and warned that they would reciprocate "shelling with shelling and blood with blood", said the United Nations envoy.

Israel captured the Gaza Strip, West Bank and east Jerusalem in the 1967 Mideast war. The groups said they were striking back after Israel killed more than 100 Palestinians who were protesting along the border.

One mortar shell exploded near a kindergarten building, a military spokesman said, causing damage to the structure.

Early Tuesday, Islamic Jihad retaliated by firing a barrage of mortar fire into southern Israel near the Gaza border.

Hamas' decision to stop the attacks suggests it means to avoid another war, one that might well end its control of Gaza.

Hamas said earlier Wednesday it had agreed to a cease-fire, and Mladenov said that since 5 a.m. local time there have been no attacks by either side.

The exchange of fire raised the possibility of yet another war in the beleaguered Palestinian enclave run by Hamas, which would be the fourth since 2008.

An Israeli military spokeswoman declined comment on the report.

Israel says its actions are necessary to defend its borders and accuses Hamas of encouraging thousands of Palestinians to break through the border and attack Israelis. Some of the Palestinian protesters hurled fire bombs, burned tires or tried to breach the fence, undermining Hamas' claims that the protests were entirely peaceful.

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