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Middle East
Hamas says Gaza ceasefire agreed
More rockets hit Israel amid ceasefire, but Israel hails missile defence system that stopped four out of five of them.
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2011 20:37

Dozens of Palestinians have been wounded and 14 killed in Israeli air strikes on Gaza since Thursday [AFP]

Palestinian fighters in the Gaza Strip fired several rockets into southern Israel overnight, according to Israeli police, as a Hamas official said Palestinian factions and Israel had agreed to observe a ceasefire after three days of border unrest.

The number of rockets and mortars fired overnight ranged from five to 15, news agencies reported, saying most of the projectiles fell in open fields and caused no injuries.

Israeli officials on Monday praised the effectiveness of the US-funded Iron Dome anti-rocket defence system, saying it shot down four out of five rockets, despite its failure to stop one that landed in a residential area, killing one person.

Israel launched a series of air strikes against Gaza since Thursday after an attack in southern Israel left eight Israelis dead. The gunmen have yet to be identified.

A senior Israeli military commander said the Iron Dome interceptors had shot down 20 incoming projectiles fired from Gaza in five days of cross-border violence and said that statistically the fact that one rocket got through did not mean the system had failed.

The Iron Dome battery placed to protect the southern city of Beersheba intercepted four of five rockets fired in one barrage but failed to stop the one that got through and killed the man and wounded several other people when it landed near a house.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu thanked a delegation of visiting US congressional representatives for their support in funding the interceptor system, a spokesperson said.

Informal ceasefire

At least nine Palestinians, including a 13-year-old boy, were wounded on Sunday from Israeli drones and F-16 fighter jet attacks, Al Jazeera's producer reported from Gaza City. The AFP news agency also published pictures of a man it said was wounded following an Israeli attack in Gaza on Monday.

At least 15 Palestinians have been killed in air strikes since Thursday.

However, Ghazi Hamad, Hamas' deputy foreign minister, told Al Jazeera on Monday that both sides had reached an informal ceasefire through Egyptian and UN mediation.

Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees, which have claimed responsibility for many of the rocket attacks, said on Monday it would abide by the temporary agreement.

"We have temporarily stopped firing rockets at Israel according to the national consensus," the group said at a press conference in Gaza City, the AFP reported.

Mark Regev, the spokesman for the Israeli prime minister, told Al Jazeera that the Israeli government was not commenting on reports of a ceasefire.

The ceasefire comes after the Arab League on Sunday condemned the Israeli raids on Palestinians in the Gaza Strip during an "urgent meeting" in Cairo.

The league called on the international community "to put pressure on Israeli occupation authorities ... to halt this brutal assault".

Yoav Mordechai, the Israeli army's chief spokesperson, told Israel Radio on Sunday that Israeli forces would "not hesitate to widen its actions and to respond with as much force as is needed".

"When we talk to them [people in Gaza] are expecting a harsher response," Al Jazeera's Elif Ural, reporting from Gaza, said.

"People in Gaza are very scared, fear is the word that describes the streets."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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