There has been a hush in hostilities in the Gaza Strip after Palestinian militants said that a ceasefire with Israel had been agreed.
The Israeli army on Monday lifted all protective restrictions imposed near the Gaza area during the weekend’s flare-up in violence, after the Islamic militant group Hamas appeared to offer a conditional ceasefire.
The Israeli Home Front Command said residents of the south could return to their routines and schools and kindergartens in the area were allowed to open, although some decided to remain closed following the hundreds of rockets that were fired at Israel over the weekend.
The Israeli Transportation Ministry announced that all public bus routes in the south would return to full and normal operation. The railway line between the cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba was also set to resume later in the morning.
More than 600 rockets were fired from Gaza into southern Israel on Saturday and Sunday, prompting a heavy response. Four civilians in Israel were killed by the rockets, the first since the seven-week Gaza war in 2014, and 23 people — at least half civilians — have keen killed by Israeli retaliatory strikes in Gaza.
Hamas ‘not interested in a new war’
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement on Sunday that the militant group was “not interested in a new war.” He said the group was ready to “return to the state of calm” if Israel stopped its attacks “and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life.”
Despite Haniyeh’s offer of a possible ceasefire, warning sirens could still be heard in Israeli cities on Sunday night and Israeli authorities have not officially confirmed whether a truce has been reached.
International Pressure for Peace
International pressure had stepped up on Hamas to end the latest escalation.
European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini called for a halt to “indiscriminate rocket attacks” from Gaza and expressed support for Egyptian and United Nations mediation efforts. The EU has called for rocket fire to “stop immediately”.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres condemned Hamas’ attacks and urged all parties to “exercise maximum restraint.” A UN envoy said it was working with Egypt to try to end hostilities.
Meanwhile, the White House offered its full support of Netanyahu’s response.
US President Donald Trump wrote on Twitter: “Once again, Israel faces a barrage of deadly rocket attacks by terrorist groups Hamas and Islamic Jihad. We support Israel 100% in its defense of its citizens…. To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace – it can happen!”