News Desk |
Children in Israel´s south were heading to school early Wednesday as an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect, putting an end to a brief yet intense flare-up with Gaza. The truce, announced by Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, came after nearly two days of heavy shelling from both sides that had threatened to descend into full-blown war.
Gaza´s rulers Hamas said they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military did not comment, but the Home Front Command removed late Tuesday all limitations on southern residents, sending children back to school after two days in shelters.
Palestinians responded with rocket and mortar fire, as well as an anti-tank missile that hit a bus Hamas says was being used by Israeli soldiers.
Hardline Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who said on Tuesday he did not support stopping the strikes, announced he will be making a statement on Wednesday afternoon.
The latest violence, which saw seven Gazans killed in 24 hours as the Israeli aerial bombardment flattened buildings and sent fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky, was the worst between Israel and Palestine since a 2014 war.
Sirens began sounding in southern Israel late Sunday, sending tens of thousands running for cover in shelters as around 460 rockets and mortar rounds were fired from Gaza, wounding 27 people, including three severely.
A Palestinian labourer from the occupied West Bank was martyred when a rocket hit a building in the Israeli city of Ashkelon. In a statement issued late Tuesday, Egypt called on Israel to cease its “military action” in Gaza.
“Egypt´s efforts have been able to achieve a ceasefire between the resistance and the Zionist enemy,” the Gaza groups said. The flare-up began on Sunday with a botched Israeli special forces operation inside the Gaza Strip that turned deadly and prompted Hamas to vow revenge.
Egypt has negotiated ceasefires following previous flare-ups, while UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov has also been seeking a long-term truce in recent weeks.
The clash that resulted from the blown covert operation martyred seven Palestinians, including a local Hamas military commander, as well as an Israeli army officer.
Palestinians responded with rocket and mortar fire, as well as an anti-tank missile that hit a bus Hamas says was being used by Israeli soldiers. A soldier was severely wounded in the attack
Schools were closed in Gaza and in southern Israel on Tuesday as the two sides warned each other they would respond forcefully to any further violence. Egypt has negotiated ceasefires following previous flare-ups, while UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov has also been seeking a long-term truce in recent weeks.
After an Israeli security cabinet meeting that reportedly lasted some six hours on Tuesday, a statement was issued saying the ministers “instructed the (military) to continue its operations as necessary”