Israeli leader says Hamas begged for cease-fire

An Israeli woman inspects the damage in an apartment that was hit by a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip in the southern Israeli town of Ashkelon

Children in Israel´s south were heading to school early Wednesday as an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect, putting an end to a brief yet intense flare-up with Gaza. But Israelis are burning tyres to show their anger at the agreement.

"Within two seconds (after air sirens) we heard a huge boom, we saw our curtains flying in the air, windows (broken), and only after a few minutes when we went out, we realised that the missile had hit the building next to us", said Claude Bonfito, who lives near an block of flats hit by a rocket in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

Tuesday's ceasefire did not appear to address any of the underlying issues, including the blockade and Hamas' vast arsenal of rockets, and it was unclear whether United Nations and Egyptian efforts toward a broader deal might resume.

Israeli-Palestinian fighting that broke out following a botched Israeli army operation in the Gaza Strip has quickly subsided, with Palestinian factions agreeing to a cease-fire and a return to talks.

Rocket attacks from Gaza sent residents of southern Israel to shelters, wounding dozens and killing a Palestinian laborer from the occupied West Bank.

A Hamas official said the violence erupted on Sunday when a group of its members were fired upon by a passing auto belonging to Israel forces.

Following the incident, Israel commenced airstrikes on Gaza and Palestinian groups responded with rockets.

Among the dead were Hamas commanders Nour Baraka and Mohammad Al-Qarra, medical officials said.

The violent escalation between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza was the worst since a 2014 war.

In that 50-day war, more than 2,100 Palestinians were killed in Gaza, majority civilians, along with 66 Israeli soldiers and seven civilians in Israel.

Hamas, the Islamist movement that dominates Gaza, and other Palestinian militant groups announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had accepted an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire and would abide by it if Israel did too. "Our enemies have pleaded for a cease-fire, and they know very well why", he said. The Jerusalem Post reports that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Hamas "begged" for truce.

While many Palestinians celebrated in the streets, in Israel the response was mixed.

Around 460 rockets and mortar rounds were fired at Israel, the most ever in such a brief time period, the army said.

Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel's existence, seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognized Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Its timing has raised questions since progress had been made in recent weeks toward ending months of unrest along the Gaza-Israel border, but the Israeli military said it was necessary to defend the country.

An Israeli officer was killed in the cross-border barrage, Israeli Defense Forces said.

The wider Israeli-Palestinian peace process has been stalled for several years.

Israel withdrew settlers and soldiers from Gaza in 2005 but maintains tight control of its land, air and sea borders.



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