Israel, Hamas agree to restore calm in Gaza

Israel, Hamas agree to restore calm in Gaza

GAZA – Reuters
Israel, Hamas agree to restore calm in Gaza

Hamas said on July 21 it had agreed a truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip, a day after clashes killed an Israeli soldier and four Palestinians along the volatile border.

The Israeli military declined to comment on the reported ceasefire. Israel's government and army rarely acknowledge ceasefires with Hamas, but a military spokeswoman said civilian life should return to normal in areas next to Gaza.

In what appeared to be an isolated incident, with no reports of casualties, an Israeli tank fired on a Hamas post in Gaza after Palestinian suspects breached the border fence and entered Israeli territory before retreating back into Gaza, the military said. There were no other reports of unrest in the area.

On July 20, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli soldier and the Israeli military launched dozens of strikes that killed four Palestinians, including three Hamas fighters. At least 120 Gazans were wounded.

"With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions," said Fawzi Barhoum, spokesman for the Hamas group that controls Gaza.

The soldier was the first member of Israel's army to be killed on the Gaza front since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas, a military spokesman said.

During the flare-up which lasted several hours, the Israeli military said its jets and tanks hit 68 Hamas targets, and destroyed "buildings and infrastructures and revoked significant military and command and control capabilities."

Egyptian security officials and a diplomat from another unnamed state held contacts with Hamas and Israel in an effort to restore calm and prevent further deterioration, a Palestinian official told Reuters.

Israel, Hamas, Gaza Strip