Free Press Journal

Hamas militants target Israel despite ceasefire



Jerusalem/Gaza: At least three rockets were launched at the southern Israeli Eshkol regional council area at noon Thursday, two hours into the five-hour UN-brokered Hamas-Israel temporary ceasefire, the Israeli Defence Forces (IDF) said.

The three rockets exploded in open territory and no injuries or damage was reported, according to Xinhua.

On Wednesday, Israel agreed to a temporary ceasefire between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m. Thursday, in order to allow humanitarian aid into the heavily bombarded Gaza Strip enclave.

The request for aid was made by the UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East, Robert Serry, after an Israeli air raid killed four Palestinian children by the beach Wednesday afternoon.

The IDF claimed Israeli bombers mistook the young children for militants and said it is investigating the incident.

According to medical officials in Gaza, 227 Palestinians have been killed since last Tuesday when Israel began its air raid campaign called Operation Protective Edge.

In all, 1,678 Gazans were reported wounded. It is estimated that 80 percent of the casualties from Israel’s strikes were civilians.

In Israel, one civilian died from shrapnel injuries near the Gaza border and five people suffered light to medium wounds from the more than 1,200 mortar shells and rockets fired from the strip.

Prior to the start of the temporary ceasefire, a rocket barrage was fired from Gaza into central Israel. While two rockets were intercepted, another rocket exploded in open territory in the northern central plain. No injuries were reported.

Earlier Thursday, Israeli security forces foiled an infiltration attempt by 13 Palestinian militants attempting to launch an attack by entering Israel through a tunnel which led from the southern Gaza Strip towards the southern Israeli community of Sufa.

Also Thursday morning, before the ceasefire came into effect, the Israeli Air Force continued striking targets in the Gaza Strip.

Attempts at reaching a new ceasefire are under way with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas and Israeli representatives meeting in Cairo.

Israel has demanded a halt to the rocket fire and demilitarisation of the strip. Hamas has demanded an end to the seven-year blockade on the enclave and the opening of the Rafah Crossing in the southern Gaza Strip adjacent to the Egyptian border.

The organisation has also demanded that Israel release 56 Palestinians affiliated to Hamas who were arrested in another IDF operation in Hebron last month, following the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teens.

Israel’s deadly operation, which has killed mostly civilians including women, children, the elderly and the disabled, has triggered international outrage with Palestinians and their supporters holding demonstrations condemning the airstrikes in various countries.

Earlier Thursday, Sami Abu Zuhri, Hamas movement’s spokesman in Gaza, said in a press statement that after consulting various Palestinian factions and political powers, the UN request for a five-hour ceasefire was accepted.

A Hamas official said on condition of anonymity that his movement and other Palestinian factions agreed to halt rocket fire into Israel for five hours in response to a proposal by the UN, Xinhua reported.

“But we will respond to any Israeli attacks on Gaza during the pause,” the official said.