The Islamist rulers of the Gaza Strip have said they reached an agreement with Israel to restore calm. It follows a day of deadly Israeli strikes after a soldier was killed along the border for the first time in years.
The ceasefire agreement was reached early Saturday, a spokesman for Hamas said.
“With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions,” Fawzi Barhoum told the Reuters news agency.
Israeli officials did not immediately comment on the Hamas announcement, the second such agreement in a week. There was no military activity reported in Gaza in the early hours of Saturday.
Ceasefire follows day of violence
Israeli forces conducted dozens of airstrikes across the Gaza Strip on Friday. Four people were killed, and Hamas’ military wing said three of its fighters were among the dead. About 120 Palestinians were reported wounded. Israel said rockets had been fired back into its territory.
The strikes came after an Israeli soldier was shot dead by Palestinian fire along the Gaza border — the first to be killed there on active duty since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, according to an Israeli army spokesman.
Friday’s violence prompted the United Nations envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, to issue an urgent appeal for calm.
“Everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink. Not next week. Not tomorrow. Right now!” he wrote on Twitter, adding: “Those who want to provoke Palestinians and Israelis into another war must not succeed.”
Months of clashes
Israel has been toughening its response to incendiary kites and balloons launched from Gaza over recent weeks.
At least 149 Palestinians have been killed since protests broke out at the end of March against the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip and the dire humanitarian situation there. Most of them were shot during demonstrations or clashes along the border.
Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.
se/jm (Reuters, dpa, AFP)