Hamas announces Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel

Truce comes after Israeli fighter jets attacked sites in Gaza in retaliation for a rocket fired at Israel 

Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli air raid in Gaza City
Flames and smoke are seen during an Israeli air raid in Gaza City

Hamas, the group that governs the Gaza Strip, said it reached an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire with Israel after an exchange of fire, but explosions in the enclave could still be heard early Tuesday.

"Egyptian efforts succeeded with a ceasefire between the occupation and the resistance factions," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

Israel had yet to comment.

The reported truce comes shortly after multiple rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip towards Israel on Monday evening, according to a joint statement issued by Gaza's armed groups, in response to Israeli air strikes that pounded Hamas positions across the Palestinian territory.

Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza said they fired projectiles across the border and warned they would escalate attacks if the Israeli army continued its air raids.

Sirens sounded in multiple places in southern Israel close to the border, the Israeli army said.

Earlier on Monday, Israeli warplanes launched air strikes against Hamas positions across the Gaza Strip, in retaliation for a rocket from the Palestinian enclave that hit an Israeli home, wounding seven people.

As the Israeli assault began, residents in the northern part of the Gaza Strip reported hearing the sounds of explosions earlier on Monday evening. Local media reported air strikes landed in an agricultural area east of Khan Younis in Gaza's south.

Ambulances were on the scene, but there had four small warning explosions prior to the largest one that flattened the building that may have allowed people to get out of the area. 

Israel said it had destroyed Hamas's military intelligence headquarters.

Gaza's health ministry said seven Palestinians were wounded in the attacks.

Asked whether the group was responsible for the rocket fire Hamas spokesman Abdullatif al-Kanoo told media outlets, "the Israelis continue to impose a crippling siege on the Gaza Strip and practise all kinds of aggression against Palestinians… Therefore, the Israeli occupation should bear the consequences of its actions against our people in Gaza and the West Bank and in Jerusalem, as well.

"Hamas will not leave our people undeterred … the resistance will strike back if needed."

He condemned the Israeli response. 

"The current Israeli bombardment of the Gaza Strip reflects its criminal nature. The Palestinian resistance will not allow the occupation to oppress its people."

Hamas political chief Ismail Haniya called for unity to address Israeli attacks 

"The Palestinian cause is being attacked on various fronts - in Jerusalem, the West Bank and Gaza, as well as inside Israeli jails.

"We must face this onslaught with a united national front, and in coordination with our Arab allies ... Our people and the resistance will not surrender if the occupation crosses red lines".

Ashraf al-Qudrah, spokesperson for Gaza's health ministry, said hospitals and medical points across the strip are ready and on high alert. 

The health ministry has also called on residents to take precautions as Israel begins to launch attacks across Gaza. 

Israel issued a similar warning about an hour before the raids began, telling Israeli residents to open bomb shelters in the expectation of potential rocket fire coming from inside Gaza in response.

United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres is "gravely concerned" by the recent developments in Israel and the Gaza Strip and urges all sides to exercise maximum restraint, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said.

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