Hamas and Israel agree on truce to end Gaza flare-up

Tens of thousands of people have rallied in central Tel Aviv

Israel initially said the two fighters were shooting at Israeli soldiers, but Hamas said they were involved in a training exercise that senior officials were attending. Israel rarely acknowledges reaching any such agreement with Hamas, a group it designates as a terrorist organization and with which it has fought three wars in the past decade.

At least 18 Palestinians were wounded Thursday as Israel struck a building in central Gaza City, the health ministry in the Palestinian enclave said, after hours of relative calm.

"Palestinian factions will respect calm as long as Israel does", he added.

A second Palestinian official with knowledge of the talks said the cease-fire would begin at 2045 GMT. It said the deal was mediated by Egypt and other regional players.

After two days that saw the worst exchange of fire between Israel and Hamas since the 2014 war, a fragile truce prevailed Friday in Gaza, with no rocket attacks or airstrikes since an apparent ceasefire went into effect at midnight.

According to medical officials, the Israeli regime's airstrikes killed Enas Khammash, a pregnant Gazan woman, and her 18-month-old daughter Bayan, as well as another Palestinian.

Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza in response to a barrage of rockets from the Palestinian territory, its military said Thursday, marking a sharp escalation even as negotiations were taking place over a cease-fire.

Ambulance sirens echoed through the night in Gaza, where families huddled at home as powerful explosions thundered through the strip.

A police officer inspects the damage to a construction site in the southern Israeli town of Sderot near the Gaza border following a rocket hit, on August 9, 2018.

The military said Israel was targeted with around 180 rockets and mortars from late Wednesday into Thursday.

Israel's military said the five-storey building was used by Hamas's "interior security forces for military purposes".


Israel responded by hitting the multi-storey building, first with small bombs apparently so that people would evacuate, then flattening it to the ground with a huge blast that shook the city and raised clouds of dust and smoke.

The strike hit a building that Palestinians say housed a cultural centre and other offices in the middle of the city, an AFP correspondent said.

Israeli media and supporters of the occupation have bashed British media outlets such as the BBC and the Guardian for their allegedly biased reports, but the BBC consistently uses language that favors the Israeli narrative: "targeted killing" as a euphemism for "execution without trial, ' or 'Palestinians demand to return" instead of 'right to return'.

A brief statement was issued immediately after the meeting, saying: "The IDF has been instructed to continue to act forcefully against perpetrators of terror".

Air raid sirens signaling incoming rocket fire wailed across southern Israel throughout Thursday, with warnings going off in the southern city of Beersheba for the first time since the 2014 war.

According to the Jerusalem Post, more than 200 rockets and mortars were launched since August 8, leaving 28 Israelis injured.

In turn, Israel carried out over 140 airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

As Israel continues to attack Gaza and strangle its economy with measures that have been denounced as "genocidal policies of collective punishment", the Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) noted that "Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of a full-blown humanitarian crisis due to Israel's 10-year siege".

While some local media outlets were reporting that Muhammad succumbed to his wounds early Thursday afternoon, the Gaza Ministry of Health has maintained that he is still in critical condition and being treated in the ICU.

US State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert told reporters in Washingotn, "Overall, we condemn the launching of missile attacks into Israel and call for an end to the destructive violence".

Yuval Steinitz, a member of Netanyahu's security cabinet, told Israel Radio earlier that Israel was "not eager for war" but would make no concessions to Hamas.

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