Exchanges of fire in Gaza appeared to continue Saturday following a deadline for an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire between the Palestinian Islamic Jihad and Israel. Photo by Ismael Mohamad/UPI | License Photo
May 13 (UPI) -- A cease-fire was announced Saturday after a fifth day of intensifying rocket fire from Islamic Jihad militants in the Gaza Strip and airstrikes by the Israeli defense forces.
The cease-fire was announced by the Palestinian Islamic Jihad's political chief, Mohammad Al-Hindi, after being brokered by Egyptian diplomats and was to go into effect at 10 p.m. local time.
The deal came shortly after exchanges of fire between Israel and the Islamic Jihad erupted again on Saturday, with Israeli forces striking several targets in Gaza, ending a brief lull during the cease-fire discussions.
Palestinian fighters responded with more rocket fire into southern Israel.
It remained unclear as darkness fell if the cease-fire would actually take effect as rocket fire continued from Gaza shortly after the deadline while the Israeli Defense Forces claimed it had launched renewed air strikes.
The latest round of fighting flared following the death of Palestinian prisoner Khader Adnan on May 2 after a prolonged hunger strike in Israeli custody.
On May 3, Islamic Jihad fired 102 rockets into southern Israel, injuring seven civilians. Israel subsequently shelled Gaza, killing one civilian.
A cease-fire was agreed to later the same day but on Tuesday Israel violated that deal when three Palestinian militants and 10 civilians died during a large-scale air attack dubbed "Shield and Arrow" by the Israeli military.
Islamic Jihad said it called off a planned series of rocket launches for Friday as Egyptian mediators worked to implement a more sustainable cease-fire.
Islamic Jihad fired 1,099 projectiles in the latest fighting, with the Israeli military saying the Iron Dome system intercepted 340 rockets.
The Hamas militant organization, whose political wing controls Gaza's local institutions, was told by the Israelis via Egyptian intermediaries that its airstrikes would focus on Islamic Jihad as opposed to their own forces.
Hamas, however, rejected that message following Tuesday's attack, saying it did not accept that the attack specifically directed the Islamic Jihad.
Palestinian media reported the three fighters killed Tuesday had planned on travelling to Cairo to participate in negotiations.
The latest round of fighting has killed 33 Palestinians and one Israeli. A Palestinian man working in Israel was also killed by rocket fire Saturday.