Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip have launched rockets towards Israel hours after a ceasefire took effect.

The truce ended two days of intense fighting in which militants fired some 450 rockets and Israeli aircraft carried out waves of strikes.

Early on Thursday, a family of eight were reportedly killed in Gaza. Israel said it had targeted a militant.

At total of 34 Palestinians were killed in the fighting, while 63 Israelis needed medical treatment.

The Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said 25 of the Palestinian fatalities were militants.

The escalation began on Tuesday when a senior commander of Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), Baha Abu al-Ata, and his wife were killed in an Israeli air strike.

The Israeli prime minister said Abu al-Ata was “responsible for most of the terror attacks in the last year from the Gaza Strip” and called him a “ticking bomb”.

PIJ spokesman Musab al-Buraim said early on Thursday that it had agreed to a ceasefire brokered by Egypt after Israel was “forced to accept the conditions set by the Palestinian resistance”.

Those conditions were to stop “assassination operations” and the use of live fire against protesters near the Gaza border fence, and to start implementing steps to end the blockade of Gaza, he added.

srael did not publicly confirm the ceasefire, but Foreign Minister Israel Katz told Army Radio that “quiet will be answered with quiet”.

He also warned: “The State of Israel will not hesitate to strike at those who try to harm it, from the Gaza Strip or from anywhere else.”

Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan denied any concessions had been made to PIJ, tweeting that the group “wanted a ceasefire and it received no commitments in exchange”.

IDF Spokesman Brig Gen Hidai Zilberman said its operation in Gaza, dubbed “Black Belt”, had achieved all of its objectives.

“With a combination of military personnel from a variety of units who specialize in SIGINT [signals intelligence], HUMINT [human intelligence], we were able to attack cells and close the circle against targets very quickly. That’s what killed 25 terrorists who were in the midst of carrying out hostile activity,” he added.

UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov said both the UN and Egypt had “worked hard to prevent the most dangerous escalation in and around Gaza from leading to war” and called on all sides to “show maximum restraint”.

However, five rockets were launched from Gaza hours after the ceasefire came into effect, the IDF said. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome air defence system.

There were no immediate reports of any injuries or damage.

Meanwhile, Gaza’s health ministry said eight members of the Abu Malhous family, including five children and two women, were killed in an Israeli air strike on a house in Deir al-Balah, in central Gaza, before dawn on Thursday.

The ministry said the dead were all civilians. But the IDF insisted that the head of the family, Rasmi Abu Malhous, was a commander of a PIJ rocket-launching unit.

“He was an Islamic Jihad commander and he, like many others, had the tactic of hiding ammunition and military infrastructure in their own residence,” spokesman Lt Col Jonathan Conricus told AFP news agency. “Of course we try always to minimise the amount of non-combatants killed or injured.”

A neighbour, Mohammed Mazro, disputed the IDF’s account.

“They were children, civilians, not militants and they have nothing to do with politics,” he said. “They were innocent people, asleep. We were shocked by four rockets landing on the tin house, this is not normal.”

Source:bbc.com

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