Hamas and Israel have announced a ceasefire following an escalation which left four Palestinians and an Israeli soldier dead, but the Israeli minister of foreign affairs warned of a “wide-scale” war on the Gaza Strip.
"With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told Reuters late on Friday.
The truce followed dozens of Israeli strikes on Gaza, which left four Palestinians dead and at least 120 others injured.
The air raids came after the Israeli military said one of its soldiers had been killed as a result of a shooting carried out from Gaza.
Elsewhere in his remarks, Barhoum said that Hamas had fired projectiles into the occupied lands in an “immediate response” to Tel Aviv meant to “deliver the message” to the Israeli regime.
However, Israeli minister of military affairs Avigdor Lieberman held Hamas responsible for the fresh Gaza flare-up.
“Hamas leaders are forcibly leading us into a situation where we will have no choice, a situation in which we will have to embark on a painful, wide-scale military operation,” he said during a visit to the city of Sderot.
Lieberman also warned that a new military operation on Gaza “will be larger and more painful than Operation Protective Edge,” referring to the 2014 Israeli war on the coastal enclave.
He further expressed his frustration with Palestinians sending flaming kites into the occupied territories.
Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil Al-Hayya responded to the threat, saying the Palestinians would resist any Israeli aggression.
“In the face of Zionist threats, we say the resistance will continue, the marches will continue and its tools will continue to vary and take different forms, including the kites,” he said.
Israel carries out regular air raids on Gaza, citing Hamas targets but the attacks mostly kill civilians. The Gaza Strip has been under an Israeli siege since 2007 and witnessed three wars since 2008.
Tensions have been running high near the Gaza fence since March 30, which marked the start of a series of protests, dubbed “The Great March of Return,” demanding the right to return for those driven out of their homeland.
The Gaza clashes reached their peak on May 14, the eve of the 70th anniversary of the Nakba Day (the Day of Catastrophe), which coincided this year with the US embassy relocation from Tel Aviv to occupied Jerusalem al-Quds.
Irked by the siege and use of lethal force by the regime forces, the people in Gaza send kites loaded with flammable material to the occupied lands in a show of protest.
Israel unveils new tank for guerrilla warfare
Earlier this week, the Israeli army released details of a new tank designed more for use in guerrilla warfare conditions, a code for urban battles.
The “dual-use” Merkava 4 Barak tank is expected to be operational in three years.
The new tank has a sensor system, which gives its commander a full view of the surroundings in his helmet, and can be equipped with a computer system based on artificial intelligence, the Israeli military said.
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