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After Israeli strikes on Gaza following soldier's death, a ceasefire is holding steady

Israel did not confirm the ceasefire, which supposedly came into effect at midnight.

MIDEAST-GAZA-CLASHES Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

A CEASEFIRE HELD by Hamas largely held today after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.

Israel did not confirm the deal announced by Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas, which went into effect around midnight last night.

Since then there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave or of mortar fire from Gaza toward Israel.

“With Egyptian and UN efforts, we reached (an agreement) to return to the previous state of calm between the (Israeli) occupation and the Palestinian factions,” Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said in a statement.

He gave no details of the deal.

MIDEAST-GAZA-CLASHES Palestinian protesters carry a wounded man during clashes with Israeli troops on the Gaza-Israel border. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

Israel’s army and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office declined to confirm a truce was reached.

“All we can say is that there have been no incidents or Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip since the last wave of airstrikes on Friday night,” a military spokeswoman told AFP.

Yesterday, three Hamas militants were killed as air raids sent fireballs exploding into the sky over Gaza, while Israel said rockets had been fired back at its territory. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead in protests near the border.

The United Nations urged all sides to step “back from the brink” after months of increasing tensions.

MIDEAST-GAZA-CLASHES A Palestinian protester uses a slingshot to hurl stones at Israeli troops during clashes on the Gaza-Israel border. Source: Xinhua News Agency/PA Images

The soldier, shot dead along the border in southern Gaza, was the first to be killed in and around the Palestinian enclave since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Yesterday’s flare-up is the latest as demonstrations and clashes on the frontier since March have seen at least 149 Palestinians killed.

The Israeli army said they struck 60 Hamas sites including weapon manufacturing sites, a drone warehouse and a military operations room.

The ceasefire is the second since in a week.

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.

© AFP 2018 

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