News / Middle East

Rockets Strike Israel After Truce Declared

Members of the Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas inspect the damage after Israeli air strikes on smuggling tunnels in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2014.
Members of the Palestinian security forces loyal to Hamas inspect the damage after Israeli air strikes on smuggling tunnels in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, March 13, 2014.
VOA News
The Palestinian militant group Islamic Jihad said 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.

But soon after the announcement, two rockets fired from Gaza exploded inside Israel. Islamic Jihad denied it launched the attack and it was not immediately clear who fired the rockets.

The Israeli military said four rockets were fired Thursday from the Palestinian-controlled Gaza Strip, down sharply from the more than 60 that had been fired since the previous night.

Israeli officials have refused to confirm any cease-fire deal was in place.

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 dozens of 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.

 
Some information for this report was provided by AP and AFP.

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