Hamas has vowed to halt airborne arson attacks, top Israeli official says

On The Attack Israel Launches Wide Offensive Against Hamas in Gaza

The recent outburst of violence comes after months of near-weekly border protests organised by Hamas aimed in part at protesting against the Israeli-Egyptian blockade of Gaza. The soldier was the first Israeli killed in that time.

Almost 150 Palestinians have been killed since the demonstrations began on 30 March, majority shot by Israeli snipers.

Since protests broke out on March 30, at least 149 Palestinians have been killed.

A senior Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the deal involved "the cessation of all forms of military escalation" including Israeli air strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets.

Following the announcement of a ceasefire overnight, the IDF announced that Israel's Zikim beach near the border with Gaza was reopened to the public and that southern communities have been instructed to return to routine with no special security directives. Nonetheless, the fire on the troops at the border was "the most serious incident" since the 2014 conflict, Manelis said, and the IDF's Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had spent the years since then ensuring that the army was ready for "whatever response is necessary". "When a Palestinian sniper fires at one Israeli soldier, Israel bombs Gaza with F-16s and preps for all out war".

Hamas said on Saturday it had agreed to a truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, a day after clashes killed an Israeli soldier and four Palestinians along the volatile border.

"Hamas is forcing us into a situation where we will have no choice but to embark on a large and painful military operation", Lieberman was quoted as saying by Israeli Hebrew-language daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

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"With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions", said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Hamas Islamist group that controls Gaza.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks, something Hamas denies.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel and his defense minister, Avigdor Lieberman, arrived at military headquarters in Tel Aviv on Friday night for emergency meetings with top officials, a highly unusual event for the start of Sabbath.

The Israeli retaliation Friday to the soldier's killing was fierce, but Hamas' response was far meeker with just a few projectiles launched that were intercepted by Israel.

Protest organizers say they are demanding the right to return to lands lost to Israel in the 1948 war of its foundation and for an Israeli-Egyptian blockade to ease. Israel has carried out such strikes on Gazans launching incendiary kites and balloons at southern Israel.

Last weekend saw the most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since a 2014 war, raising worries of another round of conflict.

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