Militants halt fire in Gaza flare-up

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The Palestinian Ministry of Health in Gaza identified the pregnant woman as 23-year-old Inas Khamash, and her 18-month-old daughter as Bayan Khamash.

Earlier on Thursday, a Palestinian official said armed factions in Gaza were prepared to halt their rocket attacks on southern Israel if the Israeli military stopped its air strikes.

Separately, The Times grossly misrepresents Hamas' ongoing rocket attacks against the Gaza envelope communities with the following claim: "Palestinian fire was mostly calibrated to hit border areas rather than population centers".

More sirens rang out in southern Israel on Thursday night and there were reports in the Israeli media of at least two rockets landing in open areas.

Abu Mujahed, spokesman of the Popular Resistance Committee, a smaller faction in Gaza, said on his Facebook page: "Upon Egyptian and global efforts, a ceasefire between Palestinian resistance began conditional on the commitment of the occupation".

Since the escalation on Wednesday, Palestinian militants fired scores of rockets including a long-range missile deep into Israel and Israeli aircraft struck more than 150 targets in Gaza. In this week's fighting, the Palestinian Health Ministry said three Palestinians were killed.

An Israeli man outside a house in Sderot damaged by shrapnel from a rocket fired from Gaza.

As part of a cease-fire deal, Israel is insisting that Hamas stop sending incendiary kites and balloons over the border, Israeli and Palestinian officials say.

"We are closer to an arrangement than we have been in the past because Hamas's interest in a deal is greater than its wish for escalation", he said. One of the officials said "they consider this round of escalation over".

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"The government is in dire need of individual initiatives and investments to provide power so that it can become independent of the occupation (Israel), step by step", Shifa' Abu Sa'adi, head of natural resources at the Palestinian economy ministry, told Reuters.

Protests and clashes along the Gaza border began on March 30 and peaked with the May 14 move of the US Embassy for Israel to the disputed city of Jerusalem. Air raid sirens wailed in southern Israel overnight and throughout the day, sending families scrambling into bomb shelters, canceling outdoor summer cultural events and forcing summer camps indoors.

Israel's military reported seven civilians wounded.

The Hamas announcement came shortly after Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu's security cabinet ordered the army to take unspecified "strong action" against Gaza militants as the military reinforced units along the border.

Tension along the Israel-Gaza border has escalated since late March, when Hamas launched what would become regular mass protests along Israel's perimeter fence with Gaza.

Nickolay Mladenov, the United Nations envoy for the Middle East conflict who has been seeking to negotiate a long-term truce between Israel and Hamas, said he was "deeply alarmed".

Smoke billows during an Israeli air strike on Gaza City, Aug. 9, 2018. Large turnout at the protests has also been driven by widespread desperation in Gaza, amid worsening conditions linked to the blockade.

As Israeli airstrikes persist and the living situation gravely worsens, Palestinians in Gaza are on the brink of a full-blown humanitarian crisis due to Israel's 10-year siege.

After a sleepless night for residents of Gaza and nearby Israeli communities on Wednesday, there was little respite on Thursday morning.

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