Gaza terror group declares ceasefire

Masked members of Islamic Jihad near the outskirts of Gaza City prepare rockets to fire against Israel (Photo: Amir Farshard Ebrahimi)

Masked members of Islamic Jihad near the outskirts of Gaza City prepare rockets to fire against Israel (Photo: Amir Farshard Ebrahimi)

Islamic Jihad has announced a ceasefire after launching a massive rocket barrage at southern Israel over the past 24 hours.

The Gaza terror group said that the truce had been brokered by Egypt – but Israel has not yet confirmed it.

The announcement came this afternoon, after more than 70 rockets were fired into Israel yesterday. It is the largest such attack on Israeli civilians since November 2012, when Operation Pillar of Defence was launched.

Five rockets hit populated residential areas.

The Israel Air Force retaliated this afternoon by launching strikes on seven terrorist targets in the southern Gaza Strip – believed to be used by Hamas and Islamic Jihad militants.

Lieutenant Colonel Peter Lerner, an IDF spokesman, said: “Since yesterday we have seen a substantial deterioration in the safety of the residents of southern Israel. We have responded and will continue to do so in order to eliminate threats as they develop. This is our obligation and responsibility to those exposed to Gaza terrorism.”

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman pushed for a military invasion of Gaza as the only way to counter the threat.

Speaking at a Bethlehem conference this morning alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron, Palestinian Authority leader Mahmoud Abbas condemned the firing of rockets from Gaza to Israel.

The Gaza attack appears to have come in response to an Israeli airstrike that killed three Islamic Jihad operatives on Tuesday

Last updated: 2:17pm, March 13 2014