Gaza ceasefire holds after two-day flare-up, protests expected

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Gaza has been controlled by Hamas for more than a decade, during which time it has fought three wars against Israel, most recently in 2014.

Israel's ambassador to the United Nations, Danny Danon, has appealed to the Secretary General of the United Nations and the Security Council to condemn Hamas for the unprovoked terrorist attack on Israel's southern communities in the past twenty-four hours.

Israel has also been battling nearly daily airborne arson attacks from Gaza caused by kites and balloons rigged with incendiary devices flown across the border that have sparked large fires that destroyed forests, burned crops and killed wildlife and livestock.

A pregnant Palestinian woman and her 18-month-old child were killed in the Israeli attacks, as was a Hamas militant.

A baby and her pregnant mother were among three Palestinians killed by Israeli strikes in Gaza overnight Wednesday, officials said, as the Jewish state struck a series of targets in response to dozens of rockets fired at its territory.

According to Israeli press reports, a total of nine Israelis have recently been injured by rockets fired from Gaza.

The Israeli military said seven people were wounded by Palestinian rockets and mortars that hit southern Israel across the border.

Israel bombed and destroyed a building housing a cultural center in Gaza City before reportedly agreeing to a ceasefire with Hamas late Thursday. Across the border, rocket warning sirens sounded nearly non-stop from sunset on Wednesday in Israeli towns and villages where residents sheltered in bunkers.

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According to Haaretz, the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) intentionally targeted civilians "with the goal of causing the residents to understand the price of escalation and placing Hamas in a problematic situation". "Hamas is responsible and bears the consequences for the ongoing events", the military reiterated.

"As of now, approximately 70 rocket launches were identified from the Gaza Strip at Israeli territory", the army said in a statement. "Hamas regime again is launching rockets at Israeli communities", he wrote".

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman held the meeting at the Defense Ministry's headquarters in Tel Aviv, which was attended by Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot and other senior defense officials.

Wednesday's cross-border escalation is believed to have started after an IDF tank struck Hamas posts in Gaza, in retaliation for an attack on a vehicle involved in the construction of a barrier along the border.

In that incident, two fighters from Hamas's military wing were killed by Israeli fire along the border. In the last several weeks of rocket fire, Hamas did not calibrate its fire to hit only unpopulated areas, as readers are likely to understand from this passage.

Israel Radio, in turn, said that explosions were heard on the outskirts of the city of 200,000 people. The protests have been aimed in part at trying to break the blockade.

In a statement, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas called for the global community to step in, blaming Israel for "the escalation on our people in the Gaza Strip". One Israeli soldier has been shot dead by a Palestinian sniper.

Shortly after the announcement, however, more rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel. But the high casualty rate among mainly unarmed protesters has drawn global criticism.

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