LIVE BLOG: Hamas, Israel reach apparent ceasefire after massive flare-up
AP Photo/Ariel Schalit
Palestinian militant groups in the Gaza Strip announced an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel on Tuesday after a severe escalation of violence threatened to descend into full-blown war.
The groups, including Hamas, issued a joint statement saying they would abide by the ceasefire as long as Israel did the same.
As of Tuesday evening at 6:30pm local time, there have been no rockets fired for about two hours. This pause in clashes comes after over 24 hours of rockets launched at Israel followed by Israeli strikes on Hamas and Islamic targets in Gaza.
A massive missile and mortar barrage from Gaza into Israeli territory beginning Monday afternoon continued throughout Tuesday, with the Hamas militant group vowing that the 400 rockets launched so far would be "just the beginning" if Israel continued to carry out retaliatory strikes in the enclave.
Israeli communities adjacent to the Gaza Strip came under near-constant bombardment throughout the day Tuesday as the security cabinet huddled at the military's Tel Aviv headquarters for over five hours of discussions on the situation.
The first fatality in Israel was confirmed Tuesday after rescuers pulled the body of a man in his 40’s from beneath the rubble of an apartment building in the city of Ashkelon that sustained a direct missile hit shortly after midnight.
Gaza's health ministry said six Palestinians were killed and 23 wounded in Israeli retaliatory strikes against hundreds of Hamas targets the military identified as "key assets" of the group, including a Hamas command center and a television station connected to the group.
Two Palestinians killed in the Israeli strikes were identified as members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine militant group and the third as a member of Islamic Jihad's armed wing.
Militants in the Strip threatened to extend the range of their rocket attacks if Israel did not halt its retaliation, making direct threats on the cities of Ashdod and Beersheba. Attacks on those cities, with populations of approximately 25,000 and 200,000 respectively, are rare and considered a major escalation.
The bombardment drew international condemnation and calls for both sides to de-escalate the situation and salvage Egyptian-led efforts to forge a UN-backed ceasefire.
The massive flare-up began on Monday afternoon after an anti-tank guided missile fired from the Gaza Strip hit a civilian bus that had reportedly just moments before been filled with dozens of Israeli troops.
One soldier who had been standing outside the bus when it exploded into flames was critically injured.
The attack on the bus came on the heels of a clash between IDF special forces and local Hamas fighters during a rare Israeli ground mission inside the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday during which one Israeli soldier and seven Palestinians, including a local commander for Hamas' armed wing, were killed.
Hamas had vowed revenge after the clash that erupted during an Israeli special forces operation in the Gaza Strip late Sunday, killing eight people.
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Major #Gaza escalation overnight. @CanEmbIsrael working 2 assess risk 2 Canadians.— Canada in Israel (@CanEmbIsrael) November 13, 2018
Full solidarity with southern #Israel and cities impacted: 1 killed, several injured. #Hamas must immediately stop targeting civilians.#Canada supports #Egypt & @UNSCO_MEPP efforts to deescalate
A short while ago, IDF troops spotted several suspects crossing the security fence from the northern Gaza Strip, infiltrating into Israeli territory. In response, an IAF attack helicopter and aircraft fired towards the suspects. IDF troops monitored the incident from the start— Israeli Air Force (@IAFsite) November 13, 2018
When a terrorist organization on your border launches 300 rockets at your civilian population, you have to respond. You are justified to respond. Wishing the people of southern Israel and Gaza a quiet night, with no Hamas rocket launches and no need to respond.— Dan Shapiro (@DanielBShapiro) November 12, 2018