Gaza, ceasefire between Hamas and Israel: dozens of victims

The truce came thanks to Egyptian mediation. At least 600 rockets left the Strip in three days; Israel responded with targeted operations that hit 260 sites. At least 27 dead among Palestinians and four Israelis. Schools are closed in southern Israel. This is the worst military escalation since the 2014 war.

Gaza (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Palestinian leaders in Gaza have agreed a ceasefire with Israel, which took effect at 4.30am this morning, following an escalation of weekend violence between Palestinian armed groups and Israel.

According to a report by a Hamas official and another from the Islamic Jihad group involved in the negotiations, the pause in hostilities is the result of Egyptian mediation. A Cairo official confirmed the truce, while an army spokesman did not comment on the news.

The toll from the clashes that began on the afternoon of May 3 last - the most serious since the 2014 Gaza war - is 27 dead on the Palestinian side, including a ground troop commander, and four Israeli victims. According to the Israeli army, in three days more than 600 rockets and missiles from militia groups in the Strip have left, 150 of them intercepted by the Israeli defense "Iron Dome" system.

Israel has responded with a series of targeted operations on at least 260 objectives - military and otherwise - in the Strip. They include the building that houses the local correspondents of the Turkish newsagency Anadolu. An operation that sparked Ankara’s immediate protest .

Palestinian victims include at least 14 civilians, including women and a child. On the Israeli front, all four are civilians.

In Ofakim, near Gaza, a rocket fell into the garden of a dwelling; another on a local elementary school. The rain of missiles hit the communities around the Gaza Strip: among them Ashkelon, where a hospital was also hit, and Ashdod, up to Beersheba, Beit Shemesh and Gedera.

Two Israeli soldiers were wounded by a member of the Islamic jihad, along the border of the Strip, which triggered the violence. The Israeli army responded with an attack that killed four Palestinians, two of whom were members of Hamas.

The Palestinian extremist movement also counts the killing of its own commander, the 34-year-old Hammed Ahmad al-Ghudari, who was hit in a targeted raid. Commenting on the operation, Ronen Manelis, a spokesman for the Israeli army, specified that al-Ghudari was "responsible for transferring money from Iran to terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip".

At dawn, following the entry into force of the ceasefire, rocket launches from Gaza to Israel and Israeli air force operations, which hit 30 targets overnight, stopped. However, in southern Israel, schools remain closed within a 40 km radius of the border of the Strip.

Commenting on the escalation of violence, US President Donald Trump confirmed "100%" support for Israel, adding that "The terrorist acts against Israel will bring nothing but misery. No more violence and work for peace ".

His French counterpart Emmanuel Macron has expressed "firm condemnation" for the launch of the rockets from Gaza to Israel; at the same time he hoped that "the cycle of violence" will stop and "France supports the mediation of the UN and Egypt".

From March 30, 2018 to coincide with the beginning of the "March of return", the border that separates the Strip from Israel was the scene of repeated demonstrations by the Palestinians. The population protests against the Israeli blockade of goods into Gaza [now described as an open-air prison] and for the recognition of Palestinian refugees’ right to return to their homes.

In the context of the protests, in recent months there have been numerous episodes of violence termed "shameful" by Israeli activists, during which at least 251 Palestinians (and two Israeli soldiers) were killed.

The army has always claimed to have opened fire to protect the border from raids and attacks by armed militiamen. The UN does not exclude that the Israeli military is committing "war crimes".