JERUSALEM (JTA) — Hamas appealed to Israel to stop cross-border attacks after Israel Defense Forces strikes killed 19 Palestinians in retaliation for more than 120 rockets fired at Israel.
Hamas and other terrorist groups in Gaza reportedly agreed Sunday to halt the weekend barrage of rocket fire on Israel if Israel’s military stops its operations in the Gaza Strip, according to reports.
Despite efforts by the United Nations and Arab countries to broker a cease-fire, at least eight more rockets and mortars hit Israel’s South on Sunday, with one targeting Ashkelon intercepted by the anti-missile Iron Dome system.
"If they stop firing on our communities, we will stop firing," Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Israel Radio on Sunday. "If they stop firing in general it will be quiet, it will be good."
Israeli military strikes on Gaza began April 7 after Hamas fired an anti-tank rocket at a school bus, critically injuring a teenage boy and the bus driver.
"If attacks on Israeli civilians and IDF soldiers continue, the response will be very harsh," Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday at the start of the regular weekly Cabinet meeting.
One of the terrorists reportedly killed in Israeli retaliatory fire on Saturday was senior Hamas member Taysir Saliman Abu-Saname, who the Israel Defense Forces said was "directly and physically involved" in the abduction of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.
On Friday, three Palestinian civilians reportedly were killed in an Israeli airstrike in Gaza that followed the school bus attack. Palestinian officials were quoted by Israeli media as saying that a 45-year-old woman, her 20-year-old daughter and a 55-year-old man were killed in Friday’s strike.
The Israeli army in a statement said the air raid targeted terrorists and was in retaliation for the bus attack.