A temporary ceasefire between Israeli and Hamas forces took hold in the Gaza Strip on Friday, the first respite in 48 days of conflict that has devastated the Palestinian enclave, but both sides warned that the war was far from over.
No big bombings, artillery strikes or rocket attacks were reported although Hamas and Israel both accused each other of sporadic shootings and other violations.
The ceasefire, which began at 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), involves the release later on Friday of 13 Israeli women and children held hostage by Hamas in exchange for Palestinian prisoners held in Israeli jails. Additional aid is to flow into Gaza, which has been gripped by a humanitarian crisis under weeks of Israeli bombardment that has killed thousands of Palestinians.
However, one of the sides decided to violate the agreement only 15 minutes after it started!
The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) has reported that unspecified Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip violated a nascent ceasefire after only 15 minutes, telling Newsweek it intercepted a rocket fired towards southern Israel.
Rocket sirens sounded in the evacuated southern Israeli towns of Kissufim and Ein HaShlosha early on Friday morning, shortly after a four-day ceasefire came into effect that will allow a prisoner exchange and the delivery of humanitarian aid into the besieged and devastated Gaza Strip.
“There was a rocket and it was intercepted,” the IDF Spokesperson’s Unit told Newsweek of the reports, noting it was fired at 7:15 a.m. local time; 15 minutes after the ceasefire—which the IDF is calling an “operational pause”—came into effect.
It is not yet clear which group was responsible for the alleged rocket launch, though the IDF has previously said Hamas bears responsibility for any attacks from Gaza into southern Israel given it holds influence over other local militant groups.
On Friday morning, The Times of Israel reported that the IDF used riot dispersal measures to prevent Palestinians returning to their homes in the northern part of the Strip amid the pause in fighting.
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