After two Palestinian teenagers has been killed, and hundreds more wounded by Israeli airstrikes in Gaza, an Egyptian-led ceasefire was called on Saturday night between Israel and the Hamas and Islamic Jihad movements, who had fired several rockets into Israeli territory, injuring at least three people.
According to international media, and the Israeli army, Saturday’s Israeli onslaught on the besieged Gaza strip marked the most intense daytime assault on the coastal enclave since Israel’s 2014 offensive which left nearly 2,000 Palestinians dead.
The two slain Palestinian teens were identified by the Gaza Health Ministry as Amir al-Nimri, 15, and Luay Kaheel, 16. They were killed when Israeli airstrike targeted a semi-abandoned building in western Gaza.
Witnesses reportedly said the two were playing on the roof of the building when they were killed, Al-Jazeera reported.
The Israeli army claimed the purpose of its strikes were twofold: first, as a response to rockets fired from the Gaza Strip, and secondly, in response to “incendiary kites” being flown from Gaza that have been starting fires on Israeli farmland in recent weeks.
“The Israeli armed forces delivered the strongest blow against Hamas since [the 2014 Gaza war] and we will increase the intensity of our attacks as necessary,” Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The Hamas movement, however, has said that its rockets and the incendiary kites are part of a natural reaction to Israel’s use of excessive force against the peaceful popular “Great March of Return” protests that began on March 30.
Since the massive protests began, Israel has killed at least 130 Palestinian demonstrators and injured over 13,000 more, according to the health ministry in Gaza. No Israeli injuries were reported as a result of the demonstrations.
While the march was set to end on May 15th, the 70th anniversary of the Palestinian Nakba, the demonstrations have persisted, along with Israel’s suppression of them.
The tensions in Gaza over the past two months, and the assault on Saturday, have lead many to speculate that a new Israeli war on the besieged territory could be on the horizon.
Right-wing Israeli Minister of Education Naftali Bennett dismissed the ceasefire , saying “we have to allow the IDF to act forcefully, with sophistication and thoroughly,” according to the Jerusalem Post.