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Friday, August 10, 2018, 17:14
Gaza ceasefire holds after two-day flare-up, protests expected
By Reuters
Friday, August 10, 2018, 17:14 By Reuters

Fire balls caused by Israeli airstrikes on Gaza City, early Aug 9, 2018. Israel struck targets in the Gaza Strip after dozens of rockets were launched Aug 8, 2018 from the coastal territory ruled by the Islamic militant Hamas group, the Israeli military said. (KHALIL HAMRA / AP)

GAZA/JERUSALEM - The Israel-Gaza border was quiet on Friday after an Egyptian-brokered truce ended a surge in violence that had shaken southern Israel and the Gaza Strip for two days.

A rise in cross-border rockets and air strikes in recent weeks has prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a truce to prevent another all-out conflict

But the ceasefire will face its first test later in the day, as Palestinians in Gaza planned on resuming weekly border protests, which at times have become violent.

After a quiet night, Israel's military told residents in the south, who had spent much of the past two days in rocket shelters, they could return to their daily routines.

A rise in cross-border rockets and air strikes in recent weeks has prompted the United Nations and Egypt to try to broker a truce to prevent another all-out conflict.

Since the escalation on Wednesday, Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel and Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza.

ALSO READ: Israel strikes Hamas in Gaza after rocket fire resumes

A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks, as was a Hamas militant. Seven people were wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortars that struck Israel.

Palestinian mourners chant Islamic slogans while carrying the coffin of 23-year-old pregnant mother Enas Khamash and her daughter Bayan, whose picture is on the coffin, during their funeral in Deir el-Balah, central Gaza Strip, Aug 9, 2018. (ADEL HANA / AP)

Palestinian officials said a truce had been reached with Egyptian mediation. There was no formal comment from Israel, which rarely acknowledges reaching any such agreement with Hamas.

Hamas, an Islamist group designated by most Western countries as a terrorist organization, has fought three wars with Israel in the past decade.

With the ceasefire holding, organizers of border protests against Israel drove through streets of Gaza with loudspeakers, calling for a massive attendance.

Gazans have held weekly protests since March 30, some of which have become violent, to demand the right of return for Palestinian refugees. The Israeli army has killed at least 158 Palestinians during those protests, and a Gaza sniper killed an Israeli soldier.

Smoke rises from an explosion caused by an Israeli airstrike on a building of Said al-Mis'hal cultural center in Gaza City, Aug 9, 2018. (ARAFAT KAREEM / AP)

Egypt and the United Nations have been trying to mediate a comprehensive cease-fire to prevent an escalation in fighting and to ease the deep economic hardship in Gaza, a narrow strip of land that is home to two million Palestinians.

READ MORE: Israel signals any truce with Hamas to be limited in scope

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