Egypt embarking on effort to quell Gaza escalation, midnight ceasefire reported


Commenting on the projectiles fired towards Israel earlier in the day, she said: "a disaster could have happened that led to war".

After Gaza militants fired some 30 mortars shells early Tuesday, Israel responded fiercely, threatening to set off another round of confrontations.

It was the worst flareup since the 2014 war between Israel in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad groups said they were not interested in escalating the situation but that "you must be stupid to think that we won't retaliate", according to Palestinian media.

"Many mediations have occurred in the past hours, and we've reached a consensus to return to the understandings of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip", it said, adding, "And we we will be committed to the ceasefire as long the Israeli occupation do".

Gaza's Hamas rulers said Wednesday they had agreed to a ceasefire with Israel to end the largest flare-up of violence between the sides since a 2014 war.

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The violent clashes between Palestinian protestors and IDF on the Gaza border with Israel erupted in March when the Palestinians started their rallies called the Great March of Return.

One mortar shell exploded near a kindergarten building, a military spokesman said, causing damage to the structure.

Separately in the morning, Palestinians launched boats from Gaza to protest Israel's blockade in what they said would be a peaceful demonstration.

In a rare joint statement, Hamas and its allies declared shared responsibility for the attacks, saying it was in retaliation for Israeli attacks targeting their positions.

Israel said its strikes Wednesday hit drone storage facilities, military compounds, and rocket and munition workshops across the Gaza Strip.

Israel conducts regular air raids on Palestinians in Gaza under the pretext of hitting Hamas targets.

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They peaked on May 14, when at least 61 Palestinians were killed as tens of thousands of Gazans protested and clashes erupted on the same day of the United States transfer of its embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had vowed on Tuesday to "respond to these attacks powerfully".

Tel Aviv has waged three wars on the coastal enclave since 2008, including the 2014 offensive, which left more than 2,200 Palestinians dead. Meanwhile, Israel denies reports of ceasefire agreement with Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad. No Israelis have been killed.

Still, Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents Arab countries, is hoping to win a high number of votes in favour of its proposal to highlight Washington's isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

Amid global condemnation of its use of lethal force at the mass demonstrations that began on March 30, Israel said numerous dead were militants and that the army was repelling attacks on the border fence.

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