Israel-Gaza border quiet in de facto truce

Smoke billowing in Gaza City on Tuesday, following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets and mortar bombs at southern Israel throughout Tuesday and overnight, to which Israel
Smoke billowing in Gaza City on Tuesday, following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave. Militants from Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets and mortar bombs at southern Israel throughout Tuesday and overnight, to which Israel responded with tank and air strikes on over 50 targets in the small, coastal enclave.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

GAZA • The Israel-Gaza border fell quiet yesterday under a de facto ceasefire after the most intense flare-up of hostilities between Palestinian militants and Israel since a 2014 war.

Militants from Hamas, the dominant group in Gaza, and Islamic Jihad fired dozens of rockets and mortar bombs at southern Israel throughout Tuesday and overnight, to which Israel responded with tank and air strikes on over 50 targets in the small, coastal enclave.

There were no reports of further attacks after Hamas announced early yesterday 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. Hamas did not launch long-range rockets at Israel's heartland while Israeli forces targeted encampments that appeared to have been vacated in anticipation of an attack.

No deaths were reported by militant groups or by Israel, which said three of its soldiers were wounded by shrapnel from projectiles.

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.

Israel stopped short of declaring any formal ceasefire with Hamas and Islamic Jihad, which it, along with Western nations, regards as terrorist organisations, but said any resumption of Palestinian attacks would bring a stronger military response.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 31, 2018, with the headline 'Israel-Gaza border quiet in de facto truce'. Print Edition | Subscribe