After a day of escalation in violence, calm has returned to Israel and the Gaza Strip. Earlier, after massive shelling from the Gaza Strip, the Israeli Air Force had attacked several targets in the Palestinian territory. The fighting ended early Wednesday morning, according to Palestinian officials. The background to the recent tensions was the death of a Palestinian prisoner after a hunger strike in Israel.
The Israeli army reported a "complete return to routine" in the border area with the Gaza Strip. Palestinian sources in the Gaza Strip confirmed that a ceasefire between Palestinian factions and Israel came into effect early this morning. The agreement was brokered by Egypt, the United Nations and Qatar. There was initially no confirmation from Israel.
Israel's air force had attacked several military posts, weapons depots, tunnels, weapons production facilities and a training facility run by Hamas in the Gaza Strip in two waves during the night, the military said. Israel holds the militant Islamist Hamas responsible for all attacks originating in the Gaza Strip.
58-year-old killed by large rock
Earlier, militant Palestinians in the Gaza Strip had responded with massive rocket fire on Israel after the death of a senior member of Islamic Jihad in Israeli custody. According to the army, a total of 104 kills were registered. Almost half landed on open ground. The remaining missiles were intercepted, exploded in mid-air or landed in the Mediterranean.
A 58-year-old died of his injuries in the Gaza Strip in the morning, according to the local Ministry of Health. According to Palestinian reports, he was hit by a large stone in connection with an Israeli air strike. Five other people were also injured. At least three people were injured by rocket splinters in Israel, one of them seriously.
The recent tensions were preceded by the death of Chader Adnan. The senior member of Islamic Jihad died in Israeli custody on Tuesday after nearly three months on a hunger strike. As a result, several militant Palestinian organizations in the Gaza Strip announced retaliation.
On hunger strike since February
According to the prison authorities, the 44-year-old from Jenin in the West Bank had been imprisoned for suspected membership in a terrorist organization and support for terrorism and hate speech. The Islamist began the hunger strike in February after his arrest for suspected terrorist offences. It was already his tenth prison term in Israel.
Meanwhile, Israel's army demolished the homes of two Palestinian gunmen in the occupied West Bank on Wednesday. Israel uses home demolitions as a punitive and deterrent measure. Human rights organizations classify this collective punishment as a violation of international humanitarian law.
Israel conquered the West Bank and East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. The Palestinians, on the other hand, are calling for the areas to be a state of their own - with East Jerusalem as the capital.