Gaza truce holds despite exchange of fire

Israel carries out two air raids as Palestinian fighters fire rockets amid shaky ceasefire.

    An Israeli strike on Gaza overnight caused damage but no injuries were reported [Reuters]

    The Israeli air force and Gaza fighters have traded sporadic fire overnight but a fragile truce between the sides that ended four days of violence appeared to be largely holding on Thursday.

    Overnight, Israeli aircraft carried out two raids, one near Gaza City and another near the southern town of Khan Younis, causing no injuries, Palestinian security officials said.

    Late on Thursday morning, Palestinian fighters fired a rocket at the southern desert city of Beersheva, which was intercepted by the Iron Dome defence system, a military spokesman said.

    It was the second rocket to be fired on Thursday, but there were no reports of any damage or injuries.

    The violence has seen at least one Israeli soldier stabbed by a Palestinian man on a section of Jerusalem's light railway in the city's annexed Arab east sector.

    Police said the Palestinian had been arrested at the Qalandia checkpoint between Jerusalem and the West Bank city of Ramallah.

    Four days of Israeli air strikes on Gaza that began on Friday have left at least 25 Palestinians dead and wounded 75, according to Palestinian medical sources. Israeli authorities have reported three injured from retaliatory Palestinian rocket fire.

    Many schools across southern Israel were again closed as a safety precaution, after briefly reopening on Wednesday for the first time this week.

    Speaking to parliament on Wednesday, Binyamin Netanyahu, the Israeli prime minister, again said the truce would be short-lived if the rocket fire continued.

    "Calm will bring calm. Anyone who disturbs it, or even tries to disturb it, will be in our gun sights," he said.

    He also linked the rocket fire from Gaza to tensions with Iran over its nuclear programme, which much of the West believes masks a weapons drive.

    The truce, mediated by Egypt, ended violence that began with Israel's assassination of a senior member of Islamic Jihad. Palestinian fighters responded by firing hundreds of rockets into Israel.

    Under the terms of the ceasefire, both Israel and fighters from Islamic Jihad, who were responsible for most of the rocket attacks, have agreed to hold their fire.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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