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Israel, Hamas clash over Gaza, then truce reached


GAZA CITY: Israeli air strikes hit sites across the Gaza Strip on Monday in retaliation for a rare long-distance rocket attack that struck a house near Tel Aviv, but Hamas said later a ceasefire was reached.

Hamas said Egypt had brokered the ceasefire following the escalation that came just two weeks before Israel’s April 9 elections.

Israel, whose strikes began around the same time Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met US President Donald Trump in Washington, has not commented on the claim.

“Egyptian efforts succeeded with a ceasefire between the occupation and the resistance factions,” Hamas spokesperson Fawzi Barhoum said.

Further exchanges of fire occurred after the ceasefire announcement, but calm seemed to return by around midnight (2200 GMT).

The ceasefire claim came after Israeli air strikes hit the office of Hamas’s leader and dozens of other targets across the Gaza Strip on Monday evening.

Those strikes were in response to a rocket from the Palestinian enclave that hit a home north of Tel Aviv and wounded seven people early Monday morning.

On Monday night, a barrage of rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip toward Israel in response to the strikes, causing air raid sirens to ring out in southern Israel.

There were no immediate reports of damage or injuries due to those rockets.

Seven people were wounded in Gaza, the enclave’s health ministry said, as explosions rocked areas of the Gaza Strip and balls of fire rose into the sky.

There was no indication Hamas leader Ismail Haniya was at his office at the time it was hit.

In comments from the White House, Netanyahu said “Israel is responding forcefully to this wanton aggression,” while Trump spoke of Israel’s “right to defend itself”.

Netanyahu said he would return home after meeting Trump, cancelling an address to pro-Israel lobby AIPAC’s annual conference on Tuesday.

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