Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up -Palestinian officials

Israel, Hamas agree truce to end Gaza flare-up -Palestinian officials

Residents said the building had served mainly as a cultural centre.

News on Thursday bowed to pressure from Israel to reword the title of an article on the killing of a pregnant Palestinian woman and her infant daughter by Israeli airstrikes on the Gaza Strip.

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel near the southern city of Sderot, Israel on August 9, 2018.

The escalation, one of the most intense exchanges of fire since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, came amid Egyptian-brokered talks in Cairo over a cease-fire between the two sides.

The Said Meshal Cultural Centre confirmed on its Facebook page the offices in Gaza City had been destroyed, saying the building also hosted offices for the Egyptian community in Gaza.

It was the third major escalation since July and came despite attempts by United Nations officials and Egypt to secure a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, the Islamist movement that runs the Gaza Strip. The latest round erupted Tuesday, when the Israeli military struck a Hamas military post in Gaza after it said militants fired on Israeli troops on the border.

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.

On the Israeli side, at least seven people were wounded.

Israeli Cabinet minister for construction and housing, Yoav Gallant, said that "whatever is needed to be done to defend our civilians and soldiers, will be done, no matter what would be the price in Gaza".

Over the past four months, 163 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire, including at least 120 protesters, according to the Gaza Health Ministry and a local rights group.

"Alarms have once again shattered the hope of the children of southern Israel for a quiet summer vacation - no country would tolerate such a situation", Danon said.

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Prior Thursday night's meeting, "the Prime Minister and the Minister of Defense instructed the IDF to prepare for every possibility", an official said.

Earlier on Thursday morning, IDF jets targeted over 100 of Hamas' strategic military sites, including 10 Hamas military compounds in the Gaza Strip, manufacturing facilities, training camps, and an advanced-weapons site.

Violence has boiled over several times in recent months, but residents of both Gaza and nearby Israeli communities said the overnight fighting reached a new level of ferocity.

It said the Palestinian "resistance" had fired a large number of rockets at "enemy positions in the Gaza envelope". "The rocket hit their house and smashed it, you can see the damage", said Abdullah Khammash, 31 and a cousin of the woman and child killed.

Abu Mujahed, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee, a smaller faction in Gaza, said on his Facebook page: "Upon Egyptian and worldwide efforts, a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance began conditional on the commitment of the occupation".

Thursday's events are the latest in a series of severe flare ups over the past few months in Gaza, leading many local and global officials to speculate that another large-scale Israeli offensive on the Palestinian territory could be imminent.

Mladenov added that "if the current escalation however is not contained immediately, the situation can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences for all people".

A surge in cross-border rockets and air strikes in recent weeks have prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a truce to prevent another all-out conflict.

Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas called on the worldwide community to "immediately and urgently intervene".

Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30 and peaked with the May 14 move of the US Embassy for Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem. This comes less than 24 hours after Israeli airstrikes killed three Palestinians on Wednesday night.

Nofal claimed that this is one of the reasons why "the Palestinian people have emerged victorious in all battles".

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