Published: Sun, July 15, 2018
Worldwide | By Gretchen Simon

Israel, Hamas Reach Ceasefire Deal Following Rocket Fire, Airstrikes

Israel, Hamas Reach Ceasefire Deal Following Rocket Fire, Airstrikes

No casualties or major damage was reported on either side, and Israel said it was focused on hitting military targets and was warning Gaza civilians to keep their distance from certain sites.

On Friday, Israeli troops shot and killed two Palestinians, including a teenager, and wounded hundreds of others in border clashes.

A spokesperson for the Israeli prime minister did not immediately comment on the ceasefire. Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it was an "immediate response" that was meant to "deliver the message". "They were crowned by the success of the Egyptian effort to restore calm and end the escalation". A senior Israeli defense official said, "Only the facts on the ground will dictate our further response".

The surge in violence followed mounting public criticism of Netanyahu over failure to counter a new Palestinian tactic: incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza that have burned crops and scrubland in southern Israel.

The statements came after Israeli warplanes carried out a fresh wave of airstrikes across the blockaded Gaza Strip on Saturday, martyring two Palestinian children.

Israeli officials said a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a home in Sderot, injuring a 17-year-old girl, a 20-year-old woman and a 52-year-old man.

"We are talking about the biggest offensive strikes since Protective Edge", Air Force Brigadier General Tzvika Haimovic told journalists, referring to Israel's name for its 2014 operation in the Gaza Strip.

In Israel, air raid sirens sent people rushing to shelters in areas surrounding the Gaza Strip as rockets and mortars were fired from the Palestinian enclave at nearby communities.

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"The action we are taking draws a clear red line: that from now on, we will not allow this".

The Israel Defence Forces (IDF) said it struck facilities used by the militant group, which dominates Gaza, including a battalion headquarters in Beit Lahia, a training camp located in a high-rise building in the al-Shati refugee camp in northern Gaza, weapons storage facilities and rocket launchers.

The Gaza Health Ministry said the 15-year-old boy killed was shot in the chest. Fourteen others were wounded. Nearby houses were damaged. A police spokesman said no hits had been identified in the city. "Bombardment for bombardment", he said.

The escalation in violence sparked fears that a wider military conflict could erupt after months of heightened tension along the Gaza-Israel border.

Earlier on Friday, an Israeli soldier was injured by a grenade thrown by a terrorists during unrest on the Gaza border.

Hamas's Barhoum said the group was responsible for the barrage against Israel and that it was carried out "in response to the Israeli air strikes".

At least 140 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since the protests and clashes broke out along the border on March 30.

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