GAZA: The Israel-Gaza border fell quiet on Wednesday under a de facto ceasefire after the most intense flare-up of hostilities between Palestinians and Israel since a 2014 war.
There were no reports of further attacks after Hamas announced early on Wednesday that it would cease fire if Israel did the same. Israel signalled it would halt its strikes if the rocket barrages stopped.
But even during the fighting, both sides appeared bent on avoiding wider conflict after weeks of violence along the fenced border.
Israeli forces targeted encampments that appeared to have been vacated in anticipation of attack. A Palestinian official said Egyptian mediation led to a ceasefire, and terms of the “understanding” did not go beyond “a restoration of calm by both sides”.
Hamas had largely abided by an Egyptian-brokered truce that ended the seven-week Gaza war four years ago. In Israeli towns near the frontier, where rocket warning sirens sounded frequently on Tuesday, schools reopened on Wednesday morning.
Gaza’s streets were filled with shoppers. Israel stopped short of declaring any formal ceasefire, but said any resumption of attacks by gunmen would bring a stronger military response.
Violence along the border escalated in recent weeks.
Palestinians are increasingly frustrated at their prospects for an independent state. — Reuters
Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians have been moribund since April 2014 and Israeli settlements in occupied territories have expanded.
By late Tuesday, Israeli aircraft had hit 55 facilities in Gaza, including a cross-border tunnel under construction. — Reuters