Islamic Jihad announces Gaza ceasefire with Israel

Arturo Kim
October 28, 2018

Smoke rises from an explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike on Gaza City, early Saturday, Oct. 27, 2018.

The fighting followed a bloody day of border protests, in which Israeli forces shot and killed five Palestinians protesting along the perimeter fence dividing Hamas-ruled Gaza and Israel.

Islamic Jihad, the second largest militant group in Gaza, hailed the rocket fire in a statement as a response to "Israeli aggressions", stopping short however of directly claiming responsibility for the launches.

"We announce a ceasefire with Israel after Egyptian contacts with us", Dawoud Shihab, Islamic Jihad spokesperson, told Anadolu Agency.

According to the IDF press service, the Israeli Air Force attacked eight sites belonging to the Palestinian Islamic Jihad movement in response to the latest rocket attacks from Gaza.

Another IDF spokesman, Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the rocket strikes were ordered by operatives from the overseas branch of Iran's elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in Syria and warned Israel may not limit its response to Gaza.

The group said in a statement that its decision to halt the rockets was in response to Egyptian efforts to restore calm in Gaza and prevent a further deterioration between Israel and Gaza.

The Defense Ministry's liaison to the Palestinians said a mortar launched during the barrages struck the ambulance terminal at the Erez border crossing, the sole pedestrian passage between Gaza and Israel.

The new flare-up came hours after six Palestinians died in renewed clashes on the Gaza-Israel border even as the territory's Islamist rulers Hamas said Egypt was seeking to negotiate a return to calm.

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Hamas has disavowed the recent rocket attacks and blamed fringe groups bent on sabotaging United Nations and Egyptian efforts to broker a long-term truce.

At least 212 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in Gaza since the protests began, according to figures collated by AFP.

Palestinians have been protesting along the border since March 30, demanding an end to Israel's blockade of the territory and the right to return to lands from which they fled or were driven when Israel was founded in 1948.

The hospital, inaugurated by the country's vice president in 2016, was the latest foreign hospital to open in Gaza following the $34 million Turkish-Palestinian Friendship Hospital, a project Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan - then premier - agreed to sponsor in 2010.

On Friday, thousands of Palestinians gathered at five locations along the boundary, burning tires and throwing rocks, grenades and firebombs at Israeli troops who responded with tear gas and occasional live fire.

Israel has threatened to expand its strikes to Iranian forces in Syria, which could lead to a confrontation with Iranian and Hezbollah fighters.

Israel and some Gulf states share an interest in curbing Iran's influence in the region.

Peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians broke down in 2014.

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