Gaza militants agree to ceasefire: Hamas official

A cross-border Palestinian attack on Israel threatened relations between the two countries.

Ramallah: Militant groups in Gaza have agreed to a ceasefire aimed at ending a three-day round of violence with Israel, a senior Hamas official said Sunday, after a cross-border Palestinian attack on Israel threatened relations between the two countries and set off a round of Palestinian rocket barrages and Israeli airstrikes.

The official said Egypt helped broker the cease-fire, which was to go into effect Sunday evening. Egypt, which has been in contact with Israel, told the groups that Israel would halt its airstrikes only if the Palestinian groups stopped shooting first, he said.

Hamas security personnel would enforce the agreement, the official said.

He spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to make the cease-fire public.

The current round of hostilities was triggered Thursday by militants who launched an attack from Egyptian territory, ambushing Israeli cars and buses along the border and killing eight people. Israel says an armed Palestinian faction from Gaza was responsible.

Israel responded hours later with an airstrike that killed members of the faction, and Palestinian militants began bombarding southern Israel with more than 100 rockets and mortars, killing one Israeli man on Saturday. wounding dozens and sending thousands of Israelis running to bomb shelters.

The Israeli airstrikes have killed 15 people in Gaza, most of them militants. A spokesman for Israel`s military said Sunday that Israel "will not hesitate" to widen its military operation if necessary.

Bureau Report

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