Israel near achieving objectives in Gaza, some reports suggest

Other reports however say no ceasefire arrangement is imminent


An Israeli airstrike in Gaza flattened buildings and left 33 people dead this morning, according to the local Hamas-run Health Ministry. 

It is unclear how many of the fatalities were terrorists and how many were civilians. Israel emphasises that it only strikes buildings that are used for terror, but is yet to detail what its target was in this strike. 

News of this major strike comes as there are growing rumours that a ceasefire may be nearing, amid reports that Israel has achieved key objectives in Gaza.

Egypt is trying to mediate an agreement between Israel and Hamas, and there are conflicting accounts in Israeli media as to whether Jerusalem is taking it seriously. Some outlets are suggesting that now Israel has eliminated some important Hamas infrastructure, it is open to proposals. Others say that ceasefire plans were not discussed in today’s security cabinet meeting. 

The latest strikes have included direct hits on arms facilities. “Israel Air Force attacked a weapons depot located in the home of a Hamas terrorist operative in the central Gaza Strip,” the  military announced this afternoon. “In addition, IAF aircraft attacked a Hamas terrorist weapons depot in the southern Gaza Strip.”

Israel also struck “military assets” at a Hamas intelligence centre today, according to the IAF, which added: "The department was located adjacent to a kindergarten, proving once again how the Hamas terror organisation deliberately endangers civilians by placing its military assets in the heart of densely populated civilian areas.”

Despite the operational successes and rumours of a possible ceasefire, rockets continue to fall and sirens continue to sound. 

In Netivot, southern Israel, a rocket landed in a street, close to drivers who looked in in horror. There were no injuries. In Ashkelon, a  baby was rushed to hospital this afternoon, after being hurt when the mother ran to a bomb shelter. 

Just before the festival of Shavuot started, a large barrage hit southern Israel and several rockets landed in populated areas, causing damage but no serious injuries. One hit a synagogue in Ashkelon. Shrapnel missed the ark, containing Torah scrolls, by just a few centimetres. 

The ongoing crisis has prompted security threats on Israel’s borders, with an instance of rocket fire from Syria, and a handful of rockets from Lebanon. Today, there was an incident on the Jordanian border. “Police units responded to reports of two suspects seen on main road walking near the area of Maale Gilboa in the north, near the Jordanian Israel border,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld announced, adding that they were apprehended. “They crossed the border overnight. The suspects were armed with knives and are being questioned by intelligence Services.” 

Mr Rosenfeld said that a large police operation is being mounted to clamp down on Arab-Jewish clashes over Shavuot. “Police have completed security measures and preparations for the Jewish festival of Shavuot,” he said. “Police units have mobilized with emphasis on Jerusalem in the old city in order to prevent and respond to incidents if necessary.”

But the chances of calm are thought to be slim. Two hours before the festival began, several pedestrians were injured in a car ramming attack in eastern Jerusalem. 

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