Friday, 17 August, 2018

Israel and Hamas agree on truce to end Gaza flare-up

Read more Colombia recognises Palestine'as a free and sovereign state Read more Colombia recognises Palestine'as a free and sovereign state
Kenny Thornton | 10 August, 2018, 21:41

A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks overnight, as was a Hamas militant, local medical officials said.

Twelve Palestinians were lightly wounded in previous strikes, and another 18 were wounded when what Palestinians said was a cultural center was hit by an Israeli airstrike, Palestinian health ministry officials said.

Israelis and Palestinians should unite against the deadly threat of Hamas, said U.S. Mideast peace envoy Jason Greenblatt in an op-ed published Friday on CNN.

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

Israel says it has no choice but to enforce its blockade to defend itself against Hamas, which calls for Israel's destruction and has used Gaza as a base for missile attacks.

The situation in southern Israel deteriorated significantly Wednesday night after Hamas started to pound the Israeli towns and communities in the Gaza belt with 180 rockets and mortar shells.

Gaza's Health Ministry identified those killed in the airstrikes from Wednesday to Thursday as Hamas fighter Ali Ghandour, 23-year-old Enas Khamash and her daughter Bayan.

At least seven civilians were injured by the rocket fire on the Israeli side.

IDF said demonstrators were throwing rocks and burning tires at Israeli troops, causing them to respond with live fire "in accordance with the rules of engagement".

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A long-range rocket fired from Gaza struck an uninhabited area outside the largest city in southern Israel on Thursday, Israeli police said, hours after a Palestinian official said an end to a surge in cross-border fighting could be near.

Just as they joined forces to eradicate these brushfires, Greenblatt said, Israelis and Palestinians must work together to "address another deadly threat: Hamas". One of the officials said "they consider this round of escalation over".

The Gaza Strip is home to more than 2 million Palestinians, over 70% of which are refugees who were forcibly expelled from their homes in present-day Israel when the state was established in 1948. Those have hit a stumbling block as Hamas is insisting that the release include all prisoners who were part of a 2011 prisoner exchange for Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit but have since been rearrested, according to Palestinian officials, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the talks.

But the ceasefire will face its first test later in the day, as Palestinians in Gaza planned on resuming weekly border protests, which at times have become violent.

i24NEWS Defense Correspondent Daniel Tsemach contributed reporting from southern Israel.

In Sderot, the Israeli city near the Gaza Strip, a gaping hole could be seen in front of a small, three-storey building. Some rockets landed in the communities, and many others were shot down by the Iron Dome, which is created to intercept only rockets headed towards population centers.

Tension along the Israel-Gaza border has escalated since late March, when Hamas launched what would become regular mass protests along Israel's perimeter fence with Gaza. One Israeli soldier was killed by a Palestinian sniper.

After a sleepless night for residents of Gaza and nearby Israeli communities on Wednesday, there was little respite on Thursday morning.

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