Gaza truce appears to be holding
militants from the Islamic group - AFP
AFP

JERUSALEM:  A truce declared by Gaza militants appeared to be holding on Friday with the Israeli military reporting no fresh rocket fire during the night after two days of tit-for-tat violence.

“It’s all quiet, there has been no fire overnight,” an army spokesperson told AFP at 8:00 am (0600 GMT).

The radical Islamic Jihad group announced on Thursday that an Egyptian-brokered truce on the Israel-Gaza border had been restored after Israeli warplanes pounded the territory in response to a barrage of rocket fire by its militants.

But the truce, which was to have taken effect at 1200 GMT on Thursday, was tested when the Israeli military reported further rocket fire from Gaza hours later and launched retaliatory air strikes for a second night.

“Israel Air Force aircraft targeted four terror sites in the southern Gaza Strip and three additional terror sites in the northern Gaza Strip,” a military statement released around midnight (2200 GMT) said.

Witnesses and Palestinian security officials said the targets included facilities near Gaza City used by the military wing of Gaza’s ruling Hamas movement.

Israeli aircraft also struck a base of the hardline Popular Resistance Committees in the southern town of Rafah.

The army said five rockets hit Israeli territory during the evening. Another two were intercepted by Israel’s Iron Dome air defense system.

Three rockets had struck during the morning, before the announcement of the renewed truce.

On Wednesday, at least 60 rockets hit Israel and Israeli warplanes pounded Gaza in response, in the worst violence around the territory since an eight-day conflict between Israel and Hamas in November 2012.

Neither side reported any casualties.

Despite the tit-for-tat violence, experts said Israel was not interested in a major confrontation.

The flare-up began on Tuesday when Islamic Jihad militants fired a mortar round at Israeli troops allegedly trying to enter southern Gaza, prompting a retaliatory air strike that killed three of them.

On Wednesday, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, launched a coordinated barrage of rockets at southern Israel that continued into the night, with the group putting the number at 130.

Israel responded by hitting 29 targets across Gaza that night, including Islamic Jihad and Hamas bases. Another seven air strikes followed on Thursday morning with seven more around midnight.

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