Hamas says ceasefire agreed to with Israel after significant exchange

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a weekly cabinet meeting

On Tuesday, Israel struck more than 60 military targets in the coastal enclave, with some 70 rockets and mortars fired from the territory throughout the day. Israel denied there was an agreement, but a senior Israeli defense official, speaking on condition of anonymity, indicated to reporters that an understanding had been reached under which Israel would not conduct additional strikes in Gaza as long as no more rockets or mortar shells were fired.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah faction that is dominant in the occupied West Bank, said Israel had used "vigorous aggression" against Gaza that proved it did not want peace.

The violence followed a serious escalation in the area of the fence separating Gaza and Israel over the past months.

Rockets are fired from inside the Gaza strip towards Israel on the sixth day of Israel's operation "Protective Edge" on July 13, 2014.

Lieutenant-Colonel Jonathan Conricus, a spokesman for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), said the most extensive strikes from Gaza since the 2014 war also drew "the largest IDF retaliatory attack" since that conflict.

There was no immediate claim of responsibility, but there was speculation the mortars were fired by Islamic Jihad in revenge for a recent incident that left three of its members dead.

A picture taken on May 29, 2018 shows fishing boats carrying a group of Palestinian activists who are protesting and perhaps trying to breach Israel's naval blockade on Gaza, setting to sail from Gaza City harbour. Several were shot down by its Iron Dome rocket interceptor system while others landed in empty lots and farmland.

Shortly after he spoke, Israel's military began its airstrikes.

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Islamic Jihad takes its orders from Qassem Soleimani, the commander of the Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps, while Hamas in October past year mended ties with the Islamist regime in Tehran.

Israel responded to the cross-border attacks by targeting 65 terror sites, including rocket and munitions factories, military compounds and a terror tunnel.

"The Hamas regime, Islamic Jihad and the other terrorist organizations, inspired by Iran, are responsible for the escalation", the prime minister said.

Israel and Hamas are bitter enemies and have fought three wars since the Islamic group seized control of Gaza in 2007.

France and Britain have criticised the draft resolution for a lack of specific details, diplomats said, adding the USA viewed it as biased against Israel.

The vessels, which carried a broader group of seventeen people, including protesters wounded in weeks-long demonstrations along the Gaza-Israel border, patients with cancer and students, was forcibly led toward the Israeli Port of Ashdod.

But Israel has faced worldwide criticism and calls for an independent investigation over its use of live fire during the protests and clashes along the border.

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