Israeli Tanks Fire on Hamas Post in Gaza After Infiltration

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Israeli airstrikes pummeled Hamas targets in Gaza, killing four Palestinians, mostly Hamas operatives, after Palestinian snipers killed an Israeli soldier near the border Friday, officials said.

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".

Palestine's Health Ministry reported earlier that four Palestinians were killed Friday by Israeli forces in two separate incidents near the Gaza-Israel buffer zone. A fourth Palestinian was shot dead in protests near the border.

A written Israeli army statement said the army launched a large-scale assault targeting military points allegedly belonging to Hamas.

Palestinian residents said the area was calm after midnight, and an Israeli Army spokeswoman confirmed there was no known military activity in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian mourners carry the body of 27 years old Mohammed Badwan during his funeral in Gaza City on July 21, 2018.

The tactic has become popular during the months-long Gaza border protests, known as The Great March of Return, in which Israeli security forces have killed more than 140 Palestinians. Israel and Hamas have fought three such wars over the past decade and Hamas agreed to the second such cease-fire in a week under heavy Egyptian and global pressure.

The UNs envoy for the West Asia peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, said "everyone in Gaza needs to step back from the brink".

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Recent weeks have also seen a sharp increase in arson attacks in Israel from balloons and kites launched from Gaza.

However, Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman held Hamas responsible for the fresh Gaza flare-up.

On Friday, Hamas vowed to continue its protests and the launching of incendiary devices towards Israel.

It said its aircraft and fighter jets had attacked 40 military targets across Gaza that included Hamas battalion headquarters, a drone warehouse, aerial defence systems, and observation posts.

Rocket and mortar fire had been aimed at southern Israel from Gaza starting from the early Friday evening, with a Code Red rocket alert siren splitting the night in the Gaza Belt region shortly after 8:30 pm.

While it appeared that relative calm had returned to the area on Saturday, Phyllis Bennis, a programme director at the US-based Institute for Policy Studies, said it was unlikely that any ceasefire agreement would hold.

The demonstrations have been fueled in large part by pervasive despair caused by the blockade which has caused widespread economic hardship.

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