Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire deal

Hugh Fox
July 21, 2018

Israeli airstrikes pummeled Hamas targets in Gaza, killing four Palestinians, mostly Hamas operatives, after Palestinian snipers killed an Israeli soldier near the border Friday, officials said.

Palestinian brother (1st-R) of Mohammed Badwan mourns during his funeral in Gaza City on July 21, 2018. They later announced the soldier had succumbed to his wounds, marking the first Israeli military fatality in the area since the 2014 Gaza war. "A terrorist squad shot at IDF troops and the IDF soldier was severely injured". He later succumbed to his wounds.

"The resistance will continue to uphold this equation no matter the sacrifices made because the people of Palestine have full support for their resistance", it said.

Palestinians have been protesting every Friday since March 30, demanding their right to return to the homes and land their families were expelled from 70 years ago.

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It said its aircraft and fighter jets had attacked 40 military targets across Gaza that included Hamas battalion headquarters, a drone warehouse, aerial defence systems, and observation posts.

The IDF's chief spokesman Ronen Manelis did not rule out a major ground offensive, but said the IDF was not looking to enter a full-scale conflict. An Israeli Cabinet members said Hamas has failed to listen to Israeli warnings against violence at the Gaza border. The protests were part of a months-long movement that residents had hoped would draw attention to the Israeli blockade.

Israel's hardline Defence Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has warned that the continued use of kites and balloons by Palestinian activists in the Gaza Strip would "force" Israel into waging another large-scale military assault on the Hamas-run coastal enclave. "Rather than looking for opportunities to weaponize everything from kites to mirrors in order to attack Israel, Hamas should focus its ingenuity on improving the Gazan economy".

Last weekend saw the most severe bout of daytime fighting since the last Gaza war in 2014.

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Two Palestinians were killed in a strike east of Khan Yunis in southern Gaza, the health ministry in the enclave said.

The same day, around 200 rockets and mortars were fired at Israel from Gaza and four Israelis were wounded when a rocket hit a house in the nearby Israeli city of Sderot.

In recent weeks, Palestinians have shifted their focus to sending to burning kites and helium balloons over the Israeli border fence and into the farmland beyond.

Following the clashes, the U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process called on all sides to "step back from the brink" of war.

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