Hamas says Gaza ceasefire reached after Israel's biggest strikes since 2014

Hamas says Gaza ceasefire reached after Israel's biggest strikes since 2014
Two teenagers were killed and dozens other Palestinians injured after being struck by Israeli rockets in the besieged Gaza Strip.
2 min read
14 July, 2018
Israel unleashed its biggest strikes on Gaza since 2014 [Getty]

Hamas said Saturday it had reached a ceasefire with Israel brokered by Egypt after Israel unleashed its biggest air strikes on the Gaza Strip since the 2014 war.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the Islamist movement, which runs the Gaza Strip, had agreed to an "Egyptian offer to return to a ceasefire to stop this escalation".

An Israeli military spokesman declined to comment, but said its actions would depend on what happens on the ground.

Thick plumes of smoke rose over parts of the Gaza Strip as Israel hit dozens of targets it said belonged to militants, including a high-rise building allegedly used by Hamas as a training facility with a tunnel underneath.

The exchange of fire followed months of tension that has raised the prospect of a fourth war in the blockaded Gaza Strip since 2008.

The weekend's violence flared on Friday when Israel shot dead a Palestinian teenager who was protestsing on the Gaza border

On Saturday two Palestinians aged 15 and 16 were killed after being caught in an Israeli strike on a building they were near in the west of Gaza City, the enclave's health ministry said.

Twenty-five people were wounded across Gaza, the ministry added.

Israel said around 100 rockets and mortars were fired from Gaza, mostly mortars, wounding three.

Hamas said it fired in defence in response to Israeli air strikes.

'The hardest blow'

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said Hamas had been hit with "the hardest blow" since a 2014 war "and we will increase the strength of our attacks as necessary".

Hamas's Barhoum said the group was responsible for the barrage against Israel and that it was carried out "in response to the Israeli air strikes".

"The protection and the defence of our people is a national duty and a strategic choice," Barhoum said.

Border protests

Tensions have been building between Hamas and Israel for months over mass protests along the border fence.

The Great Return March demonstrations have called for Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes now inside Israel.

Since the protests broke out along the border on 30 March, at least 145 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire.

The majority of those killed were non-violent protesters, as well as journalists, bystanders and a nurse, however a small number were seeking to breach or damage the border fence.

The killings peaked on 14 May when the US opened its new embassy in Jerusalem.

No Israelis have been killed.