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Egypt brokers ceasefire in Gaza

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Egypt intervenes to bring rocket exchange between Hamas and Israel to an end

Israeli air strikes kill four militants in 24-hours of bloodshed (AFP, Said Khatib)

After rocket fire left casualties on both sides, Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority said that Egypt’s mediation has restored calm to the Gaza Strip.

The violence started on Tuesday night when armed groups fired rockets into Israel. The violence on both sides continued through Tuesday and Wednesday and left three foreign workers in Israel injured and four Palestinians dead. The dead Palestinians include three from the Ezzedine Al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, and one from the Popular Resistance Committees, according to AFP.

The ceasefire which came into effect on Thursday has been largely upheld by both sides, except for a reported rocket fired into Israel on Thursday morning. An Israeli defense official told the Haaretz newspaper that the no formal agreement had been reached.

Silvan Shalom, Israel’s senior vice prime minister told an Israeli radio station on Thursday morning that Hamas now realises that Israel will respond to rocket fire with full force. He added that Israel has other ways to respond, including targeting leaders in Hamas and carrying out ground military operations in Gaza.

During the preceding two days of violence, Israel closed two border crossings, the Beit Hanoun crossing (Erez) and the Karm Abu Salem crossing (Kerem Shalom). The border crossings have been reopened on Thursday, according to Ma’an News.

The Palestinian Centre for Human Rights (PCHR) said on Wednesday that it denounces the closure of the Beit Hanoun border crossing by Israel, which came after Israel carried out a military operation near the border crossing, injuring a policeman.

PCHR added that since its closure, 28 Palestinians with permits to travel abroad for medical treatment were unable to leave. The group called for “prompt action to exert pressure towards keeping Beit Hanoun (Erez) crossing open and allow the Gaza Strip’s patients, who suffer from serious illnesses and hold permits to travel via the crossing, to travel freely.”

 


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