Tense Quiet Takes Hold Along Gaza Border Amid Reported TruceBy
Conflicting reports on whether cease-fire was reached
Violence was the most serious in the area since 2014 war
A tense quiet settled over the Gaza Strip and southern Israel on Wednesday amid conflicting reports over whether a cease-fire had been reached.
Gaza militants were holding fire and the Israeli military halted attacks on targets in the Palestinian territory after the most serious flare-up in hostilities since the sides’ last war in the summer of 2014.
A spokesman for the Islamic Jihad militant group announced late Tuesday that a truce had been reached through Egyptian mediation. “We are committed to this cease-fire as long as Israel is committed to it,” said spokesman Dawood Shihab.
Spokesmen for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the military declined to comment on Wednesday, as Israeli ministers gave conflicting assessments of the situation.
Education Minister Naftali Bennett denied the cease-fire, while Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz said “I imagine there have been understandings” on ending this round of violence.
The Gaza border has become a deadly flashpoint in recent weeks. Israeli soldiers have killed more than 120 Palestinians since March 30, most at protests dramatizing the Palestinian demand to reclaim land lost in the fighting surrounding Israel’s 1948 creation. Organizers billed the demonstrations as peaceful, but pockets of violence have emerged. Israel said it has acted against militants who used the mass gatherings as cover to attack troops and try to infiltrate Israeli territory.
Sirens sounded in Israel throughout much of Tuesday warning of about 70 incoming rockets and shells, some intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome defense system. Israel responded with attacks on Hamas and Islamic Jihad positions throughout the Gaza Strip.