Uncertainty about ceasefire abounds as Gaza-Israel border maintains quiet

While the shelling ceased hours ago, Israeli officials denied agreeing to a truce with Hamas and other militant groups.

By REUTERS,
May 30, 2018 14:11
2 minute read.
The sun sets over the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border May 15, 2018

The sun sets over the Gaza Strip, as seen from the Israeli side of the border May 15, 2018. (photo credit: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)

 
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The day after militant groups in Gaza launched over 100 rockets towards Israel, and Israel responded with dozens of strikes on supposed terror targets, the border separating the strip from nearby Israeli communities fell quiet.

On Wednesday, Hamas said that it and other militant groups in Gaza would agree to a ceasefire should Israel reciprocate the terms. A Palestinian official said that Egypt had meditated the agreement, but the terms of the "understanding" did  not go beyond "a restoration of calm by both sides."

In a meeting of the security cabinet just hours after the calm set it, government ministers appeared split on the issue.

Education Minister Naftali Bennett denied the truce and said that the government had not "reached an agreement with Hamas, not even an informal agreement."

Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, on the other hand, said that he "[estimated] that there are indirect understandings with Hamas to end the current round of violence." He also added that he hopes the IDF will not have to embark on a mission to "capture Gaza."

Across the board, however, MKs and ministers alike were uniform in condemning the barrage of rockets and mortars that were launched towards Israel and reiterated that the country is not keen on going to war.

In technical terms, there is an ongoing ceasefire between Israel and Hamas as a result of Operation Protective Edge, which took place during the summer of 2014.

"An agreement was reached to return to the (2014) ceasefire understandings in the Gaza Strip," Hamas' deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya, said. "The resistance factions will abide by it as long as the Occupation does the same," he added, referencing the various other militant groups that participated in Tuesday's attacks.

Al-Hayya suggested that Egyptian officials had been involved in the negotiating of the truce. Egypt mediated the ceasefire reached in 2014, and have been instrumental in communicating between Hamas and Israel.

Quiet fell around 5 a.m. Wednesday morning, after reports of a truce surfaced in Palestinian media. While Israeli officials have not confirmed the rumors, the IDF has not launched any new strikes.

According to the IDF, three soldiers were injured in the back-and-forth action. No Palestinian casualties were reported.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.

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