Gaza-Israel frontier calms as ceasefire takes hold

The escalation came after at least seven Palestinians were killed on Sunday in a covert Israeli operation

"Within two seconds (after air sirens) we heard a huge boom, we saw our curtains flying in the air, windows (broken), and only after a few minutes when we went out, we realised that the missile had hit the building next to us", said Claude Bonfito, who lives near an block of flats hit by a rocket in the Israeli city of Ashkelon.

The two sides made clear the pause was an armed stand-off rather than a long-term accommodation.

Egypt is now negotiating a ceasefire.

He criticised the intensive Arabic contacts and mutual visits with the Israeli officials and blamed the internal Palestinian disputes, stating they pave the way for Arab-Israeli normalisation.

Israeli military spokesman Jonathan Conricus said they had "the intelligence and capabilities to strike a very wide range of military targets that belong to Hamas". Another Palestinian official, asked when a ceasefire might start, said: "Immediately, should Israel reciprocate".

Their discovery set off a battle that led to the deaths of seven Palestinian militants, including a Hamas commander, and an Israeli officer, and triggered the heaviest barrage of rockets fired from Gaza since a 2014 war.

The goal wasn't just to target Israeli soldiers, but to murder civilians.

Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza over the course of some 24 hours as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings while sending fireballs and plumes of smoke into the sky.

Dozens of residents of bombarded southern villages blocked an Israeli traffic junction and burned tyres in protest at what they deemed a government capitulation.

Several Israeli reporters tweeted that the country's security cabinet unanimously voted for a ceasefire, but this has not been confirmed by an official source.

Hamas, an Islamic militant group that opposes Israel's existence, seized control of the Gaza Strip from the internationally recognised Palestinian Authority in 2007.

Fakhro blamed the American and official Arabic positions for supporting the "Zionist" Israeli occupation in its endeavour to eradicate the Palestinian cause.

In aerial attacks on Tuesday, Israel's military said it took out a rocket-launching squad and fired at several Palestinians infiltrating through the border fence around Gaza, which Israel keeps under blockade.

Violence has simmered since Palestinians launched weekly border protests on March 30 to demand the easing of the blockade on Gaza and rights to lands lost in the 1948 war of Israel's founding.

Alarmed at the bloodshed, Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar have sought ways to improve conditions in the enclave.

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