Gaza rockets, Israeli air strikes persist despite truce call

Updated: 2014-03-14 10:02


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Gaza rockets, Israeli air strikes persist despite truce call

An Israeli soldier walks towards a military vehicle during a patrol along the border with Gaza near Kibbutz Kissufim March 13, 2014. [Photo/Agencies]

JERUSALEM/GAZA - A small armed faction in the Gaza Strip fired rockets at Israel on Thursday, drawing retaliatory air strikes and pushing cross-border violence into a third day despite a truce called by the more powerful Palestinian group Islamic Jihad.

The clashes have been the most intense since the Gaza war of November 2012. This time, however, casualties have been scant with winter rains keeping many people indoors, and Israel's Iron Dome interceptor shooting down some of the Palestinian rockets. Most Israeli strikes have hit unmanned militant facilities.

Hamas, the Islamist movement governing Gaza, has also kept its fighters out of this flare-up so far.

The Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad, which often operates independent of Hamas, began the barrage on Wednesday after Israel's forces killed three of its fighters a day earlier.

On Thursday afternoon, Islamic Jihad leader Khaled al-Batsh announced that a deal that had been brokered by Cairo to end the 2012 war was back in effect, provided the Israelis also complied.

"Following intensive Egyptian contacts and efforts, the agreement for calm has been restored," he said on Facebook.

Within hours, however, the Popular Resistance Committee (PRC), a Gaza splinter group, said it had launched eight rockets into Israel. At least four struck open areas and one was downed by Iron Dome, the Israeli military said.

Israel's air force then bombed a PRC camp in southern Gaza and "three other terror sites" to the north, the military said.

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