Truce holding in tense Gaza | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, March 28, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:46 AM, March 28, 2019

Truce holding in tense Gaza

  • New rockets from the enclave draw Israeli response
  • Schools reopen on both sides of border
  • Palestinian killed by Israeli fire in West Bank clash


Palestinian militants fired three rockets at Israel overnight prompting retaliatory fire from Israel, with the exchanges threatening a Hamas-declared truce.

Calm returned later yesterday, though there were concerns the first anniversary of mass protests along the Gaza-Israel border on Saturday would lead to further tensions.

Meanwhile, in occupied West Bank, a Palestinian volunteer medic was killed by Israeli forces during clashes, the Palestinian health ministry said.

Sajid Muzher, 17, was killed in the Dheisheh refugee camp near Bethlehem in the southern West Bank, the ministry said. He was shot by Israeli forces while working as a volunteer medic, a ministry spokesman told AFP.

A big turnout is expected for the anniversary of the marches, which have been calling for Palestinian refugees to be allowed to return to their former homes now inside Israel.

Israel says such calls amount to a campaign for its destruction and accuses Hamas of orchestrating violence along the border.

The protests have drawn a deadly response from the Israel army, which says its actions are necessary to defend the border.

More than 200 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli fire and one Israeli soldier has been killed by a Palestinian sniper.

Palestinians and human rights groups say protesters have been shot while posing little threat.

The exchange of fire overnight came after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he was prepared for further military action in Gaza, at a highly sensitive time ahead of an April 9 Israeli general election.

The latest severe flare-up began early Monday when a rare long-distance rocket fired from the Gaza Strip hit a house north of Tel Aviv, wounding seven Israelis.

The Israeli military hit back with air strikes across the enclave and Palestinian militants launched a further barrage of rockets. No casualties have been reported.

Calm prevailed throughout Tuesday, with Hamas claiming Egypt had brokered a ceasefire, but as night fell Israel said a rocket was fired from Gaza.

In response, a military statement said "fighter jets struck several terror targets in the southern Gaza Strip."

Shortly before midnight (2200 GMT Tuesday), the army reported a second rocket attack, this time on an industrial zone on the edge of the Israeli coastal city of Ashkelon.

Hamas and its main Gaza ally Islamic Jihad and smaller groups disassociate themselves from the incident.

Before dawn, another rocket was fired at Ashkelon but was brought down by Israeli air defences, the army said.

The army said that after a meeting with Netanyahu -- who is also defence minister -- chief of staff Lieutenant General Aviv Kohavi ordered more forces sent to the southern border region.

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