Gaza ceasefire after day of strife

Agencies

Hamas has announced that Palestinian factions and Israel have agreed on a cease-fire after the fatal shooting of an Israeli soldier spurred intense Israeli strikes on Gaza that left four Palestinians dead.

Egypt and the United Nations acted as mediators to arrange the cessation of hostilities, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

On Friday, Palestinian gunmen killed an Israeli soldier along the Gaza border, which has been the scene for months of massive demonstrations insisting on the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their former homes in what is now Israel.

The soldier was the first to be killed on the Gaza front in active duty since a 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

The Israeli military said it launched dozens of strikes into Gaza that killed four Palestinians, including three Hamas fighters.

Hamas, the armed Islamist movement which controls Gaza, said three of the dead were its fighters. The fourth was a protester, local residents and medics said. At least 120 Gazans were wounded.

Israel said its aircraft and tanks had struck dozens of targets belonging to Hamas and across the Gaza Strip, including a drone warehouse, aerial defence systems and observation posts.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held emergency discussions with cabinet colleagues and military chiefs about the escalation, which follows four months of Palestinian border protests.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who holds little sway over Hamas, has called for international intervention to prevent an escalation of the violence.