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Cease-fire at Israel-Gaza border

A surge in violence between Gaza and Israel has come to a lull with Palestinian officials reporting that Egypt has mediated a ceasefire.

 Monday’s cease-fire ended the most serious spate of cross-border clashes for months.

The latest round of fighting, along the Israel-Gaza border,  broke out on Friday, peaking on Sunday when rockets and missiles from Gaza killed four civilians in southern Israel.

In response, Israeli airstrikes killed twenty-one Palestinians, including twelve civilians, over the weekend.

On Monday, two Palestinian officials and a TV station belonging to Hamas, Gaza’s Islamist rulers, reported that a truce had been reached at 0130 GMT. The cease-fire prevented the violence from escalating into a fully-fledged conflict.

Israel did not formally confirm the existence of the truce with Hamas whom  it designates as terrorists.

However, officials in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government spoke of a reciprocal return to quiet, with one suggesting that Israel’s arch-enemy Iran had been behind the Gaza escalation.

The Israeli Defence Force (IDF) said more than 600 rockets and other projectiles had been fired at southern Israeli cities and villages since Friday.

It said it shelled or carried out air strikes on some 320 militant sites inside Gaza.

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