Fragile Gaza cease-fire off to a rocky start
A tentative calm took began to take hold Sunday after days of hostilities between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza, but Israeli leaders denied there was a cease-fire.
Islamic Jihad announced Sunday it had accepted a cease-fire brokered by Egypt, though the militant group said it reserved the right to respond to Israeli attacks. An attempt at a cease-fire earlier in the day sputtered as 11 rockets were fired at southern Israel.
Yoav Mordechai, an Israeli army spokesman, told Israel Radio that the military had no dialogue with Islamic Jihad. The army, he said, would continue to act when it needed to. On Saturday, Israel launched an air strike that reportedly killed five Palestinian militants.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Jerusalem did not seek a worsening of hostilities but he vowed Israel would defend itself.
Shortly after Netanyahu spoke at the inauguration Sunday of a branch of the Bar Ilan University’s medical school in Safed, Israel struck at a purported militant cell in Gaza, reportedly killing one Palestinian.
Israeli observers say neither Hamas nor Israel is interested in an escalation of hostilities. Hamas’ chief interest, radio commentator Gal Berger said, is to ensure it doesn’t pay a price for this round. Hamas, he said, will try to keep things at a containable level so it doesn’t join Islamic Jihad as an Israeli target.