Gaza ceasefire holds after Israel-Hamas violence

Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza have held a ceasefire following the worst violence since the 2014 war. The situation remains precarious.

A fragile ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions held early Wednesday following a flare-up in violence that threatened to unleash war in Gaza.

Gaza's ruler Hamas said they would abide by an Egyptian and UN-brokered ceasefire agreement so long as Israel did the same.

"The Palestinian resistance has defended the Palestinian people against the Israeli aggression. Once again, the Palestinians have embraced the option of resistance with patience and pride," Hamas chief Ismail Hanyia said. 

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu defended his decision to agree to a ceasefire after coming under pressure from right-wing members of his coalition. 

"In times of emergency, when making decisions crucial to security, the public can't always be privy to the considerations that must be hidden from the enemy," he said. "Our enemies begged for a ceasefire and they knew very well why."

Hardline Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman resigned and his Yisrael Beiteinu left the ruling coalition over opposition to the ceasefire, an action that could trigger early elections. 

The latest violence began Sunday when Hamas vowed revenge in response to a botched Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip that killed seven Palestinians including a top Hamas commander. One Israeli soldier was killed and another wounded in the raid.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad launched around 460 rockets and missiles into southern Israel over two days, overwhelming Israel's Iron Dome missile defense system and injuring 27 people. A Palestinian laborer from the West Bank was also killed when a rocket hit a building in Ashkelon.  A 19-year-old Israeli soldier was also wounded after military bus in southern Israel was hit by an anti-tank missile.

Israeli warplanes responded to the rocket attacks by pounding at least 160 targets in the densly Gaza, including Hamas' Al-Aqsa TV station and internal security headquarters. Seven Gazans were killed.  

cw/rt (AP, Reuters, AFP)

Related Subjects

Every evening at 1830 UTC, DW's editors send out a selection of the day's hard news and quality feature journalism. You can sign up to receive it directly here.