Hamas accepts cease-fire after massive Israeli onslaught on militant positions

Hamas accepts cease-fire after massive Israeli onslaught on militant positions

It is not believed any Israeli soldiers were hurt in the shooting.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations, dubbed The Great March of Return, to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks.

Almost 150 Palestinians have been killed since the demonstrations began on 30 March, a lot of them shot by Israeli snipers.

Meanwhile, Israeli naval forces opened fire at Palestinian fishing boats injuring 1 fisherman.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reported ceasefire.

Israel has also further tightened its blockade of Gaza by closing the only goods crossing, suspending oil and gas deliveries.

Air raids continued into Friday evening, with a number of explosions in different parts of Gaza, AFP correspondents said.

The soldier was the first member of Israel's army to be killed on the Gaza front since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, a military spokesperson said.

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.

Later Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said the United Nations and Egypt had helped negotiate a ceasefire, with an agreement reached "to return to the previous state of calm between the (Israeli) occupation and the Palestinian factions". Israeli airstrikes targeted the al-Rawda site of the al-Qassam Brigades in the al-Zaytoun neighborhood in southeastern Gaza City, the military wing of the Hamas movement, injuring several Palestinians.

Israel said its aircraft and tanks had struck dozens of targets belonging to Hamas and across the Gaza Strip, including a drone warehouse, aerial defence systems and observation posts. Israel's government and army rarely acknowledge ceasefires with Hamas, but a military spokesperson said civilian life should return to normal in areas next to Gaza.

Since then there have been no reports of Israeli air strikes on the blockaded enclave or of mortar fire from Gaza toward Israel.

The soldier's murder was what prompted Israel to launch numerous airstrikes against Hamas, which are still ongoing.

Israeli media reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was receiving an emergency briefing from the army on the situation.

"Any reasonable person who sees the... farmland that has been scorched [by incendiary kites and balloons] understands the intolerable nature of the situation", he told a group of Israelis living near the Gaza-Israel buffer zone.

"The ceasefire is crucial and shows neither side wants war but it's only temporary reprieve", he said. The weekly protests since March call for the return of refugees to their homes and lands from which they were displaced in 1948.

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.

Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.

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