Israel, Hamas agree to ceasefire deal

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For nearly four months, Palestinians in the Gaza Strip have been holding nearly daily demonstrations called "The Great March of Return" near the Gaza-Israel border. The soldier was the first Israeli killed in that time.

Israel says Hamas has been orchestrating the demonstrations, dubbed The Great March of Return, to provide cover for militants' cross-border attacks.

Since the demonstrations began on March 30, more than 140 Palestinian protesters have been killed - and thousands more wounded - by Israeli army gunfire.

A senior Hamas official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told AFP the deal involved "the cessation of all forms of military escalation" including Israeli air strikes and Hamas mortars and rockets.

Israel has given no official confirmation of agreeing to any ceasefire so far. Gaza was relatively quiet after midnight, residents said.

A third man was killed by Israeli fire east of Rafah, also in southern Gaza, the ministry said.

Israeli aircraft and tanks hit targets across the Gaza Strip on Friday after shots were fired at troops on the border, the army said, with Hamas reporting three members of its military wing killed.

Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said it accepted the ceasefire brokered by Egyptian and United Nations officials and that calm had been restored.

Israeli warplanes carried out several airstrikes reportedly targeting Hamas sites across different areas of the besieged Gaza Strip on Friday evening.

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A ceasefire announced by Hamas largely has largely held after a wave of deadly strikes across the Palestinian enclave of Gaza sparked by the death of an Israeli soldier shot near the border.

They also demand an end to Israel's 11-year blockade of the Gaza Strip, which has gutted the coastal enclave's economy and deprived its roughly two million inhabitants of many basic commodities.

Israel has yet to confirm the agreement, but the army said in a statement on Saturday that communities near Gaza could return to normal activity, according to the Israeli daily Haaretz.

Protesters gather while burning tires near the fence along the Gaza Strip's border with Israel east of Khan Younis on Friday. For more than a week, Israel has been hardening its response to kites and incendiary balloons launched from Gaza, which authorities say have set ablaze more than 2,600 hectares (6,400 acres) on Israeli territory.

Israeli media reported Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu received an emergency briefing from the army on the violence.

Palestinians are demanding the right to return to homes and villages they fled or were driven from during the conflict surrounding the creation of the modern state of Israel in 1948.

Lieberman has raised the threat of a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip if Hamas does not stop the kites and balloons being launched.

It came only a week after most severe exchange of fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza since the 2014 war.

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