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Rockets hit Israel despite reported cease-fire

JERUSALEM (JTA) — At least seven rockets and mortar shells fired from Gaza exploded in Israel after reports of an Egyptian-brokered cease-fire.

Egypt announced that a cease-fire between terrorist groups in Egypt and Israel came into effect at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

“We are still following the situation in the South and we need to see how it develops and whether the [rocket] firing really stops," Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt.- Gen. Benny Gantz said Tuesday. "It’s not over until it’s over. Quiet will be answered with quiet, and fire will be answered with fire.”  

A Reuters report late Monday quoted unnamed Egyptian officials as announcing the cease-fire. Neither Hamas nor Israel would confirm the report, and the terms of the truce were unclear.

Terrorist groups in Gaza launched a barrage of rockets at Israel March 9 after Israel assassinated Zuhir Mussah Ahmed Kaisi, leader of the Popular Resistance Committees in Gaza. The Israel Defense Forces believed Kaisi was planning a terrorist strike in Israel. 

Since the violence began four days ago, more than 200 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip. The Iron Dome anti-missile system has intercepted 56 and the IDF has carried out 37 strikes inside Gaza against rocket launchers and weapons storage facilities and factories.

Israeli authorities said Iron Dome had intercepted 90 percent of the long-range missiles targeting major Israeli cities such as Beersheba, Ashdod and Ashkelon.

At least 26 Palestinians, including a 14-year-old and three other civilians, were killed in Israeli attacks on Gaza. The majority of those killed were terrorists, including 14 from Islamic Jihad, according to the IDF.

At least seven Israelis and foreign workers in Israel have been wounded, two seriously, and dozens have been treated for shock, according to reports.

The IDF Home Front Command ordered schools closed again Tuesday in cities and towns located up to 25 miles from the Gaza border, affecting about 200,000 children. It was the third day that classes have been canceled. Classes at colleges and universities in the area also were closed.

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