A soldier sleeps at a base camp near the border with the Gaza Strip, surrounded by packages donated by citizens..
(photo credit:MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Israeli jets struck rocket launch sites and a terrorist base in the Gaza Strip on Thursday morning shortly after midnight as a response to rocket attacks on southern Israel on Wednesday night.
The exchange of fire did not stop an apparent cease-fire extension from coming into effect on Thursday at 12:00 a.m, which both sides accepted, according to Palestinian and Egyptian sources.
According to the head of the Palestinian delegation in Cairo, Azzam al-Ahmed of Fatah, Israel and Palestinian factions agreed to extend a three-day Gaza truce an additional five days.
Shortly after Ahmed's announcement two rockets fired from Gaza landed in open areas of the Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council and another landed in the Eshkol Regional Council. The Iron Dome intercepted one rocket.
Responding to the IDF's retaliatory strikes, a Hamas
official accused Israel
of violating the newly-extended truce.
"We denounce the Israeli shelling of Gaza
which is continuing. This is a violation of the calm," he said.
However, the truce has since appeared to be holding, as no rockets were known to have been fired at Israel on Thursday morning. The IDF stated that a Code Red siren which sounded at approximately 10:00 a.m. in the Eshkol Regional Council area Thursday morning was a false alarm.
An Israel Radio report stated that the Hamas delegation in Cairo had retired to Qatar to discuss options with the organizations leaders who are in the Gulf state.
The apparent cease-fire came on the heels of two previous 72-hour cease-fire agreements brokered by Cairo. One of the truces expired on Friday to the sound of rocket alert sirens across Israel as Hamas fired several barrages at the country's South and one rocket at Tel Aviv. The attack came after Hamas refused a proposal to extend
that cease-fire, an offer Israel accepted.
A second three-day cease-fire went into effect at midnight on Saturday when several rockets were launched at Israel as an extension came into effect, according to Palestinian officials.
The IDF enhanced its troop presence
along the border on Wednesday and throughout the week, in preparation to again wage war on Hamas in Gaza.
Reuters contributed to this report.
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