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Palestinian Militants Declare Ceasefire With Israel Amid Gaza Escalation

© REUTERS / Ibraheem Abu MustafaHamas militants. (File)
Hamas militants. (File) - Sputnik International
The hostilities on the Israeli-Gaza border resumed after the Palestinian militants launched rocket attacks at Israel in revenge for seven militants killed during an Israeli special forces operation at the weekend.

Gaza militant groups have announced an Egypt-backed ceasefire with Israel amid the escalation of hostilities.

"Egypt’s efforts led to the cessation of fire between the resistance factions and the Zionist enemy. The Palestinian movements will adhere to it, provided that the enemy does the same," according to the joint statement by movements led by the Hamas movement ruling the Gaza Strip.

"If Israel stops the aggression, it is possible to return to a mutual understanding on the ceasefire," the Hamas Political Bureau said in a statement

Separately, an informed source told Sputnik that "the ceasefire between the Palestinian resistance and Israel will come into force in the next few hours thanks to the successful efforts of Egypt to create a bridge over the abyss between the conflicting sides and to achieve a truce."

Israel has yet to comment on the announcement, which came after the Hamas militant group had threatened to fire rockets at the Israeli towns of Beersheba, Ashdod if the IDF airstrikes on Gaza continue.

Israel Security Cabinet Directs the Army to "Act as Needed"

Shortly before that, Israel's security cabinet has left operations against Palestinian militants in the Gaza enclave to the discretion of the military, after meeting for hours on Tuesday.

"The cabinet… was briefed by the army command and security officers on large-scale actions against terrorist elements in Gaza and instructed the army to continue them as needed," the statement read.

Abbas Decides to Return From Visit Abroad

Amid the ongoing clashes, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has decided to return from his visit abroad earlier than planned amid the spike of tensions between Israel and Palestine's Gaza Strip enclave, the Wafa news agency reported on Tuesday, citing a member of the Fatah Central Committee Hussein Sheikh.

According to Sheikh, cited by the agency, the Palestinian leader is planning to return home from Kuwait to closely follow the events and the Israeli forces' actions against Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Strikes on Hamas

The Israeli military announced that they had detected about 460 rocket launches by Palestinian militants from the Gaza Strip in the past 24 hours, intercepting over a hundred of projectiles.

"During a large-scale offensive led by Hamas, approximately 460 launches from the Gaza Strip against Israel were detected. Over one hundred rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome air and missile defence system,” the press service said in a statement.

"In response, the IDF attacked 160 terrorist targets of Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, four of which had strategic military importance," the statement said.

Earlier in the day, the Israel Defense Forces stated they had carried out another attack against Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip, the Israeli military's press service said on Tuesday.

"Over the past hour an IDF attack helicopter attacked the positions of the Hamas terrorist group in the Gaza Strip, in its northern part," the IDF press service said on its Twitter blog.

Hours before that, the IDF reported making an airstrike on "Hamas' military intelligence headquarters" after more than 300 rockets were launched at Israeli territory earlier from the Gaza Strip. Israeli Defense Forces said that the target was the place "where Hamas' intelligence operatives gathered information to launch attacks on Israelis".

"Since Gaza terror organizations began their widespread attack on Israeli civilians: approx. 370 rockets were launched from #Gaza at #Israel. Approx. 100 rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome aerial defence system," the IDF wrote on Twitter.

The Israeli servicemen have hit about 150 targets in the Gaza Strip in response to the Palestinians' attacks, including militants' bases, armouries, underground tunnels, three governmental buildings used by the Hamas movement for military purposes and a vessel belonging to the Palestinian militants' naval units.

The Israeli military also announced it had carried out an airstrike against the headquarters of the Hamas internal security service, which, according to the IDF, was situated at a tower building disguised as Al Amal Hotel.

According to medics, at least three people were killed in air attacks on the Palestinian territory, while rocket launches at Israel claimed life of a man and caused injuries to over 50 people.

READ MORE: IDF Planes Launch Strikes in Gaza After Israeli Bus Hit by Mortar Fire (VIDEO)

The hostilities on the Israeli-Gaza border have resumed after the Palestinian militants launched rocket attacks at Israel in revenge for seven militants killed during an Israeli special forces operation at the weekend.

Previously, The Israeli military said some 300 rockets were fired by the Palestinian militants throughout Monday into Israel’s southern territories. Israeli Defense Forces responded by attacking over 70 militant targets in the Gaza Strip from the ground and the air.

Israel Will Not Let Hamas Turn Israelis Living in South Into Hostages

Commenting on the ongoing clashes, Director of the Israeli Foreign Ministry's Eurasia Department Yaakov Livne told Sputnik on Tuesday that Israel would not allow the Hamas movement, which de facto governs Palestine's Gaza Strip, to effectively take the Israelis living in the south of the country hostage by shelling Israeli territory near the enclave.

"We have every right to protect the civilian population from the shelling of such a terrorist organization like Hamas. We also saw rockets and even anti-tank shells that were targeting civilian buses. What Hamas is trying to do is create a situation where the civilian population of the south of Israel will be its hostages. This is an abnormal situation and we, of course, will do what is necessary to change it," Livne said.

The relations between the Israelis and the Palestinians near the Gaza border have been increasingly tense since 2005. The Gaza Strip is one of the two parts of the partially recognized State of Palestine, which until 2005 was Israeli territory. Palestinian protesters continue regular clashes with the Israeli troops on the border, while the Israeli side accuses Gaza of ongoing shelling.

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