Israel, Hamas said to agree to six-month ceasefire in Gaza

Terror group will halt violence along border; in return, Israel to widen fishing zone, negotiate various improvements to civil life, Channel 12 reports

Israeli soldiers stand guard along the Gaza border east of the city of Rafah in the southern Strip during Nakba Day protests on May 15, 2019. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)
Israeli soldiers stand guard along the Gaza border east of the city of Rafah in the southern Strip during Nakba Day protests on May 15, 2019. (Judah Ari Gross/Times of Israel)

Israel and Hamas have reached an agreement for a six-month ceasefire along the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, Channel 12 news reported Monday.

According to the report, the agreement includes a Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the border fence, maintaining a buffer zone 300 meters from the border; an end to the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities and nighttime clashes between Gazans and security forces; and a stop to flotillas trying to break through the maritime border between Gaza and Israel.

In return, Israel will once again allow fishing at up to 15 nautical miles off Gaza’s coast, enable United Nations cash-for-work programs, allow medicine and other civil aid to enter the Strip and and open negotiations on matters relating to electricity, crossings, healthcare and funds.

The deal was brokered with Egyptian and UN mediation.

Palestinian fishing boats sail into the waters of the Mediterranean Sea in Gaza City, on July 9, 2018, with buildings of Gaza City seen in background. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

Recent weeks have seen tensions in the Gaza Strip soar, following a massive two-day flare-up earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in the coastal enclave, in which terrorists fired nearly 700 rockets, mortar shells and anti-tank guided missiles at southern and central Israel, killing four people.

The military struck back, hitting over 300 targets linked with the Hamas and Islamic Jihad terror groups, including several rocket-launching teams. Twenty-five Palestinians were killed in the fighting, most of them members of terror groups.

Last week, Palestinians marked Nakba Day, which commemorates the displacement of Palestinians from their homes in the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the State of Israel.

Some 10,000 Palestinians demonstrated along the security fence surrounding the Gaza Strip, with rioters burning tires, throwing rocks, setting off explosives and sending balloon-borne incendiary devices into southern Israel, starting at least nine fires.

Palestinian demonstrators hurl rocks towards Israeli soldiers east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza Strip on May 15, 2019, during a Nakba Day protest. (Said KHATIB / AFP)

Israel responded with various riot-dispersal measures. According to the Hamas-run Gaza health ministry, some 65 Palestinians were wounded to varying degrees along the border throughout the day, one of them seriously.

Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have participated in regular protests along the border, demanding Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now a part of the Jewish state. The protests have included many acts of violence against Israeli security forces, and have seen at least 200 Palestinians killed.

Israeli officials maintain that the restrictions on movement are in place to prevent Hamas and other terrorist groups from smuggling weapons into the Strip. They also say the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants would destroy Israel’s Jewish character.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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