Hamas Says Truce Reached After Israel's Biggest Strikes Since 2014 War

Israeli minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan

Israeli minister of Public Security Gilad Erdan

In a statement, the military said Hamas' activities "violate Israeli sovereignty, endanger Israeli civilians and sabotage Israel's humanitarian efforts that aim to help Gazan civilians".

The air force also attacked a Palestinian terrorist cell launching mortars.

The shelling and subsequent retaliatory strike came hours after Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad terrorist groups announced that they agreed to a ceasefire with Israel, following talks with Egypt and other worldwide bodies.

Shortly after the reports of the strikes, rocket sirens went off in several Israeli communities including Sdot Hanegev, Shaar Hanegev, Eshkol, Hof Ashkelon Regional Councils, and Sderot.

Twenty-five people were wounded across Gaza, the ministry said.

Israel in recent weeks has repeatedly warned Hamas that while it has no interest in engaging in the kind of conflict that led to the sides fighting three wars over the past decade, it would not tolerate its continued efforts to breach the border fence and its campaign to devastate Israeli border communities with incendiary attacks.

At least 141, mostly unarmed, Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire since protests began on March 30.

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According to the IDF, six projectiles were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defense system.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad, the two major terror groups in the Gaza Strip, indicated that while they were not interested in an all-out military confrontation with Israel, they were nevertheless prepared to do their utmost to defend the Palestinians against any Israeli "aggression".

It said its jets targeted a Hamas tunnel in the southern portion of the Gaza Strip early on Saturday morning, alongside Hamas military compounds.

In a relatively rare admission, Hamas said it fired the rockets to deter Israel from further action.

The sources confirmed that the Egyptian authorities were in contact with Hamas and Israel to avoid an all-out military confrontation following the spate of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel over the weekend. Israeli troops shot dead a 15-year-old Palestinian who, the military claimed, had tried to climb over the fence into Israel. The army said protesters attacked soldiers with grenades, bombs, Molotov cocktails, and rocks.

A 20-year-old struck by gunfire Friday during the protests in the southern Gaza Strip had also died of his wounds. the ministry said, while a further 220 Palestinians were wounded in protests along the frontier. According to the sources, the Egyptians warned the Hamas officials that a military confrontation would have a serious and negative impact on worldwide efforts to improve the living conditions of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. "We are prepared for a prolonged confrontation if the aggression [on the Gaza Strip] continues". The "March of Return" protests have also seen Palestinians fly airborne incendiary devices toward Israeli territory, sparking hundreds of fires in southern Israel and causing millions of shekels in estimated damages.

On July 9, Israel closed its only goods crossing with the Gaza Strip in response to the fires.

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