Hamas, Israel come to terms after night of violence

Palestinian faction says it has agreed to a ceasefire with Israel to end largest flare-up of violence since 2014 war, Aljazeera TV tells us.

A ceasefire agreement between Hamas and Israel appears to be holding following one of the worst days in violence in the Gaza Strip since the 2014 Gaza war.

Hamas said on Wednesday that armed groups in the Gaza Strip had agreed to a deal with Israel following a night of air strikes targeting several Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions in the coastal enclave.

The Israeli government had yet to comment on the offer but Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’s deputy chief in Gaza, said the group was committed to a truce as long as Israel was.

“A number of mediators intervened in the past hours and an agreement was reached to return to a ceasefire in Gaza”, Hayya said in a statement.

Hours earlier, a Hamas-affiliated Twitter account announced that the group had agreed to return to an understanding on a cease fire in the Gaza Strip so long as the “occupier” did the same.

Al Jazeera’s Bernard Smith, reporting from Gaza, said Egyptian security officials had helped broker the deal after Israel warned of “tougher retaliation measures” against the groups’ leaderships.

“The truce came about after Israel conveyed a message to the Egyptians that if the Palestinian factions didn’t stop, Israel would react in a stronger, harder way and target the leadership of those groups.

“It’s 10am local time (07:00 GMT) and the ceasefire appears to be sticking for now, it started at 4am local time,” he added.

“The Palestinians are projecting this image that they brokered the ceasefire. Israel will not admit that they agreed to one. But however it’s happened – it’s worked and kept things quiet for the time being.”

Israeli Intelligence Minister Israel Katz sidestepped questions on whether Israel had agreed to a ceasefire, but said it was not interested in an escalation towards war.

“It all depends on Hamas. If it continues [to attack], I don’t know what its fate will be,” Katz told Israel Radio.

The Israeli army said it struck 60 targets belonging to Palestinian resistance groups after a “barrage of projectiles” were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Tuesday.

The firing of rockets and mortar rounds came as Islamic Jihad vowed to avenge a deadly attack against its members last week.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas slammed Israel for the burst of violence, accusing it of “escalating tensions”.

“Difficult days have passed in the West Bank, Jerusalem and especially in the Gaza Strip. The Israeli occupation launched a fierce aggression on the Gaza Strip today with rockets and aircrafts. This indicates that the occupation does not want peace. However, we want peace and we demand peace”.

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