News / Middle East

    Islamic Jihad Says Gaza Truce in Effect

    An Israeli tank is positioned outside the northern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2014.
    An Israeli tank is positioned outside the northern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2014.
    VOA News
    The Palestinian Islamic Jihad group in the Gaza Strip says an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire has gone into effect aimed at halting a two-day flare-up of rocket attacks into Israel and Israeli air strikes on the Palestinian enclave.

    There was no immediate word from Israel, but a senior defense ministry official said earlier Thursday he expected the fighting to die down soon.

    Islamic Jihad leaders said the agreement for calm was a renewal of "understandings reached in 2012 in Cairo,'' referring to a truce that ended an eight-day Gaza war two years ago.

    Minutes before the Palestinian group posted word of the truce on Facebook, Israeli aircraft struck at Rafah, in the southern Gaza Strip near the Egyptian border, wounding three Palestinians.  The Israeli military said that "seven terror sites" had been hit.

    Hours earlier, sirens sounded in the southern Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Ashdod, warning of incoming rockets.  The rockets landed in open areas, causing no casualties, but flew deeper into Israel than Wednesday's attacks on southern border towns.

    Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is based in the West Bank, condemned the military escalation in and around Gaza, including rocket fire on Israel, during a news conference in Bethlehem.

    On Wednesday, the Israeli military carried out nearly 30 air strikes and fired tank shells at suspected militant targets in Gaza after Islamic Jihad launched more than 50 rockets towards Israel in the heaviest such barrage in nearly two years.

    The rocket fire, which police said caused no casualties, came a day after Israel killed three Islamic Jihad members in a Gaza air strike.

    Another Gaza militant group, the Popular Resistance Committees, said it fired several rockets as well, but Gaza's ruling Hamas movement did not join in the attacks.

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