Israeli jets have attacked targets in Gaza as a Palestinian armed group responsible for firing rockets into Israel said it was calling a ceasefire.
The Islamic Jihad movement told Al Jazeera on Thursday that it was abiding by the terms of a ceasefire brokered by Egypt in 2012 from 12:00 GMT. Israeli airstrikes were reported close to that time in Rafah city, in the south of Gaza.
Al Jazeera’s Safwat al-Kahlout reported Gaza-based medics as saying three people were injured in the latest Israeli strikes, one of them seriously.
Khaled al-Batch, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, told the AP news agency: “After the Egyptian brothers initiated contacts with us in the past few hours, we agreed to restore the calm.
“As long as the occupation [Israel] honors the calm, we will honor the calm and instructions are being given right now to al-Quds brigades, our military wing, about this understanding.”
Al Jazeera’s Kimberly Halkett, speaking in Washington, said the Israeli government was not commenting on the ceasefire. The Israeli military did confirm to Al Jazeera however that its jets had attacked seven sites in Gaza on Thursday.
Those sorties came after Gaza Strip fighters fired more rockets at Israeli cities earlier in the day – the third of cross-border tension.
Sirens sounded in the Israeli towns of Ashkelon and Ashdod and police said the rockets had landed in open areas, causing no casualties.
Islamic Jihad said it has launched more than 90 rockets since Wednesday, the highest number since Israeli bombardments of the Gaza Strip in November 2012, in which more than a hundred Palestinians were killed.
The group said the rockets were a retaliation to Israel breaking a truce by killing three of its members on Tuesday.
The Israeli military carried out 29 air strikes and fired tank shells at targets in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday.
No casualties were reported on either side.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon called for restraint from all sides after the escalating violence.
“The Secretary-General strongly condemns the multiple rocket attacks today on Israel from Gaza, for which Islamic Jihad has claimed responsibility,” Ban’s press office said in a statement.
“While reports of damage and injuries are still being ascertained, (Ban) deplores the severe escalation of violence,” it said.
“He urges all actors to exercise maximum restraint to prevent further incidents that could bring greater escalation and destabilisation in the region.”
The al-Quds Brigades further said its bombardment would continue in response to Israel’s “aggression”.
Hamas warned Israel against escalating the confrontation.
“We hold the occupation responsible, we warn of the consequences of any escalation and we reiterate that resistance is the right of the Palestinian people to defend itself,” Ihab al-Ghassin, a spokesman for Hamas, said.
(Al Jazeera and agencies – www.aljazeera.com)