Gaza-based militants fired a fresh volley of rockets into Israel despite an informal ceasefire brokered by Egypt between the Jewish state and Islamist Hamas, to defuse three days of escalating violence.
Israel retaliated with an airstrike before midnight last night that targeted a rocket-launching device.
However, the intensity of the fire fight subsided following statements by officials of the Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, to oversee the restoration of ceasefire.
Three Grad rockets, a Qassam rocket and several mortar shells were fired into southern Israel on Sunday evening and early on Monday morning, hours after the announcement of the ceasefire.
A Hamas official on Sunday said that all of Gaza’s militant groups have agreed to a ceasefire with Israel, starting at 9 p.m. on Sunday evening, but the continued attacks showed that not all groups agreed with the agreement.
A spokesman for Islamic Jihad confirmed the news of a ceasefire, but the organisation published a statement saying there was no rush to hold fire.
“Israel is the one that asked for a lull because of the situation it is in,” the statement said.
A Popular Resistance Committees spokesman also issued a statement earlier saying the group would not accept a ceasefire agreement with Israel.
“Our stance is clear. We have no connection to the ceasefire agreement with the Zionist enemy,” Abu Mujahed told the local media.
Israel had stepped up violence by assassinating members of the PRC and that it had to take responsibility for its actions, he said.
“We cannot accept a ceasefire while airstrikes continue to reverberate everywhere,” Abu Mujahed said, adding that the ceasefire was “cursed”.
The new escalation in violence began with a deadly attack on Israelis near the Egypt-Israel border on Thursday.
About 15 Palestinians were killed in retaliatory airstrikes by Israel Air Forces in various parts of the Gaza Strip following it.
Eight Israelis died in the multi-pronged border attack and another was killed by rocket fire.
The flare-up also threatened Israel’s peace accord with Egypt, which accused Jerusalem of killing five of its security forces while pursuing militants responsible for the frontier ambush on Thursday.
Israel expressed regret for the incident and Cairo later mediated an informal ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.