Middle East

Gaza ceasefire holds after Israeli strikes over soldier’s death

Israeli soldier is first to be killed around Gaza since 2014

A ceasefire announced by Hamas largely held Saturday after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.

Israel did not confirm the deal announced by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which went into effect around midnight Friday.

Since then there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave or of mortar fire from Gaza toward Israel.

“With Egyptian and U.N. efforts, we reached [an agreement] to return to the previous state of calm between the [Israeli] occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

He gave no details of the deal.

Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached.

“All we can say is that there have been no incidents or Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the last wave of airstrikes on Friday night,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.

On Friday, three Hamas militants were killed as air raids sent fireballs exploding into the sky over Gaza, while Israel said rockets had been fired back at its territory. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead in protests near the border.

The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions.

The soldier, shot dead along the border in southern Gaza, was the first to be killed in and around the Palestinian enclave since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

“An Israeli soldier was killed by a sniper and rockets were fired at Israel,” the Israel Defense Forces spokesperson said late Friday.

Friday’s flare-up is the latest as demonstrations and clashes on the frontier since March have seen at least 149 Palestinians killed.

The Israeli army said they struck 60 Hamas sites including weapon manufacturing sites, a drone warehouse and a military operations room.

An Israeli strike in Gaza on Thursday killed one man and injured three others east of Rafah.

The ceasefire is the second in a week.

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.


With reporting from AFP

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