Senior Israeli official: 'Hamas committed to halt fire terrorism'
After ceasefire reached between Hamas and Israel following a severe flare-up in Gaza prompted by the death of an IDF soldier by sniper fire, an Israeli senior official warns Hamas it will pay a much more heavy price if kite and balloon terrorism continues.
As part of the ceasefire agreement with Israel, Hamas has committed to put an end to incendiary balloons and kites, a senior Israeli official said Saturday.
"Hamas has taken a hard pounding Friday evening, which led it to ask for to a truce with Israel, while committing to halt the fire terrorism and the Gaza border violence," the official said.
"The actions on the ground would determine what happens next. If Hamas breaks (the ceasefire), it would pay even a more severe price," the official warned.
Following a special situation assessment held Saturday morning and a calm night on the border fence, the IDF's Home Front Command said Israeli communities on the Gaza border can return to civilian routine. The Zikim beach, which was closed Friday amid the volatile situation, was reopened Saturday morning.
"With Egyptian and United Nations efforts it has been agreed to return to the era of calm between (Israel) and Palestinian factions," said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.
Nevertheless, shortly after that an IDF tank fired at a Hamas post in northern Gaza after several Palestinians crossed the border fence into Israel. The infiltrators immediately returned to Gaza's territory, and no casualties were reported.
Apart from that incident, the truce has been holding, with no further retaliation from Gaza. Hamas came under pressure not to retaliate to the extensive Israeli strikes, and the terror group exercised restraint throughout the night, only responding with moderate short-range rocket fire.
An IDF soldier was killed near Kissufim by sniper fire from the Gaza Strip on Friday afternoon, leading to a retaliatory strike by the IDF that killed at least four Hamas members.
The IDF soldier, who was wearing a ceramic vest, was killed by a bullet hitting his chest. A helicopter was called to evacuate the severely wounded soldier, but he was pronounced dead in the field, the IDF said.
This incident marks the first time an IDF soldier is killed on the Gaza frontier in active duty since the 2014 Operation Protective Edge and since the "March of Return" campaign had been launched.
The soldier's death sparked a retaliatory strike by the IDF that killed at least four Hamas fighters.
During the flare-up, which lasted several hours, IDF tanks had hit 68 Hamas targets and had "eliminated about 60 buildings and infrastructures and revoked significant military and command and control capabilities."
The Hamas Zaytun battalion headquarters in northern Gaza, as well as Hamas headquarters in Bureij in central Gaza and in Khan Yunis in the southern part of the strip, were completely destroyed.
The IDF's spokesperson's Unit called Friday's offensive "The Headquarters Night" and stressed that it had severely damaged Hamas's arms depots, training facilities, observation posts, battalion situation rooms, battalion commander's offices and other infrastructures.