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A CEASEFIRE between Israel and Islamist militants in Gaza was left hanging by a thread today after rockets were fired just hours after the truce was announced.
At least 34 Palestinians were killed in intense fighting on Tuesday and Wednesday, including eight members of the same family hit by a pre-dawn Israeli air strike. Among the family were five children, the youngest aged seven.
Israeli fighter jets dropped at least two bombs on their home in Deir al-Balah, flattening the tin-roofed house and pushing it into a crater. The Israeli military did not comment on the strike.
The attack is reportedly the deadliest single action since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.
Israel had hailed the recent Gaza operation as a victory, defending its policy of targeting suspected militants in their homes despite civilian deaths and vowed to continue with the tactic.
The latest violence escalated after Israel killed top Islamic Jihad commander Bahaa Abu al-Ata in an air raid on Tuesday.
The group said it had succeeded in getting Israel to agree to a ceasefire based on several demands, including a halt to targeted killings of Islamic Jihad leaders.
Group spokesman Musab al-Berim said the Egyptian-brokered deal went into effect at 5.30am today.
An Israeli military spokesman tweeted that the Gaza operation “is over.” Some restrictions were lifted on residents of southern Israel and traffic returned to the streets of the Palestinian territory.
But just hours after the agreement came into force, five rocket clusters were fired from Gaza with no-one claiming responsibility.
Israeli Foreign Minister Israel Katz said his country would only comply with a ceasefire if the militants in Gaza stop their attacks.
He said “quiet will be answered with quiet” and denied that Israel had changed its open-fire policy, as demanded by the Islamic Jihad as a condition for the truce.
Since 2017, the Gaza Strip has been in the grip of a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has crippled freedom of movement for the population of two million people as well as the flow of goods and services, including medical supplies.
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