Israel and Gaza militants agree to end fierce flare-up of fighting

Charlene Craig
July 15, 2018

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas had been hit with "the hardest blow" since a 2014 war "and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary".

Palestinian health officials said two people were killed and 12 injured in an air strike in Gaza City on Saturday.

Hamas on Saturday said the barrage of rockets and mortar shells into Israeli territory overnight was sacked by the "resistance" to "stop Israeli escalation".

Israel and armed groups in Gaza have reached a ceasefire after a surge in cross-border violence, according to a Palestinian official.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem Sunday
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem

Last Friday, one person was killed and 57 were wounded by Israeli military fire in protests at the Gaza-Israel border.

The weekly protests at Israel-Gaza border area have now entered their fourth month.

A ceasefire was agreed on Saturday, but several hours after the announcement, the Israeli military responded after Palestinians fired two mortar bombs towards Israel.

In advance of Friday's protest, the organising committee called on Palestinians to take part in the protests to express solidarity with Khan al-Ahmar, a Bedouin village in the occupied West Bank slated for total demolition by Israeli authorities.

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According to the IDF, a military officer was lightly wounded by a grenade thrown at the border on Friday. The military said it identified about 60 launches of rockets and mortars from Gaza toward Israeli territory, of which about 10 were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.

The majority of those killed were involved in protests and clashes but others were seeking to breach or damage the border fence. It said paramedics in the southern city of Sderot were treating a 52-year-old man with a chest wound, a 17-year-old girl with a face wound and a 20-year-old woman with injuries to her limbs.

Gaza health officials say more than 130 Palestinians were killed and 15,000 others injured by Israeli forces during the protests.

On Monday, Israel announced it was shutting down the Kerem Shalom border crossing - the Strip's main crossing for commercial goods - in response to the endless stream of incendiary and explosive kites and balloons that have been flown into southern Israel, sparking fires that have burned thousands of acres of land and caused millions of shekels in damages.

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Some also targeted Hamas tunnels in northern and southern Gaza.

"In the wake of events overnight we have attacked 40 terrorist targets, including the destruction of the headquarters of the Beit Lahia Battalion", said Chief IDF Spokesman Brig.Gen Ronen Manelis. There were no reports of an Israeli counter-attack in Gaza.

Many Israelis have characterized the government's response to ongoing "terror kite" attacks from Gaza as flaccid, at best.

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