Hamas: Gaza groups agree to truce if Israel ceases fire

An Israeli soldier pulls an injured Palestinian demonstrator in the West Bank town of Birzeit near Ramallah

The armed wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the firing, saying it was in response to Israel's killing of dozens of Palestinians since March 30, majority in Gaza border protests.

With limited options at its disposal, and a failure so far of the protests to significantly ease the blockade, Hamas appears to be gambling that limited rocket fire might somehow shake up the situation.

Three Israeli soldiers were injured in Tuesday's barrages, two lightly and a third moderately, the army said.

Earlier, Tel Aviv's Permanent Representative to the United Nations, Danny Danon, on the eve of an emergency meeting of the Security Council in connection with the shelling of Israeli territory from the Gaza Strip, called on the Security Council to officially recognize Hamas as a terrorist organization.

Separately on Tuesday morning, Palestinians launched boats from Gaza to protest Israel's blockade, in what they said would be a peaceful demonstration.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the country's army would "respond to these attacks powerfully". U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said the Security Council "should be outraged and respond".

Israel conducts regular air raids on Palestinians in Gaza under the pretext of hitting Hamas targets.

"An agreement was reached to return to the [2014] ceasefire understandings in the Gaza Strip", Hamas' deputy chief in Gaza, Khalil al-Hayya said.

Plumes of smoke and dust rose from the sites hit in the Israeli air strikes.

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It accused Gaza's dominant Hamas movement and the pro-Iran Islamic Jihad group of launching the salvoes.

Israeli soldiers stand guard next to an Israeli Iron Dome defence system, created to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, deployed along the fence with the Gaza strip on May 29, 2018.

The last war in 2014 was especially devastating, with over 2,000 Palestinians killed, including hundreds of civilians, and widespread damage inflicted on Gaza's infrastructure in 50 days of fighting. Moments after the report surfaced, other reports quoting high-level Israeli sources denied any such agreement.

Israel's military said it was not seeking an escalation, but warned Hamas, with whom it has fought three wars since 2008. The Gaza Strip has also been under an inhumane Israeli siege since 2007.

"Such attacks are unacceptable and undermine the serious efforts by the global community to improve the situation in Gaza", he said.

The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the USA embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds. At least 121 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire in the unrest.

The high Palestinian death toll in the border protests has drawn strong worldwide criticism of Israel, with rights groups saying Israel's use of live fire is illegal because in many cases it has struck unarmed protesters who did not pose an imminent threat to Israeli soldiers.

"Hamas again chooses to act against the interests of the residents of the Gaza Strip, and after having failed to generate violent riots along the security fence, it chooses to carry out and facilitate high trajectory, large-scale shooting against Israeli civilians", the IDF Spokesperson said. No Israelis have been killed.

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