UN Security Council to hold emergency meeting after Israel and Gaza factions trade rockets and missiles. Meanwhile, Israel denies reports of ceasefire agreement with Palestinian factions Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

A picture taken from Gaza City on May 29, 2018, shows a smoke billowing in the background following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave.
A picture taken from Gaza City on May 29, 2018, shows a smoke billowing in the background following an Israeli air strike on the Palestinian enclave. (AFP)

Israel said on Wednesday it had struck 25 more Hamas "military targets" in air raids in the blockaded Gaza enclave overnight in response to rocket and mortar fire, part of the worst military flare-up since the 2014 war.

Targets included drone sheds, a rocket-making workshop and "military compounds," a military statement said.

Israel had said on Tuesday it hit more than 35 targets in the Palestinian enclave after a barrage of rocket and mortar fire from Hamas, that runs the Gaza, and Islamic Jihad.

Tel Aviv said about 70 rockets and mortars had been fired at Israel throughout the day. A number of them were intercepted by air defence systems.

Three Israeli soldiers were wounded. There were no immediate reports of casualties in Gaza.

The armed wings of both factions said it was in response to Israel's killing of scores of Palestinians since March 30, mainly in "right of return" protests

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the Fatah faction that is dominant in the occupied West Bank, said Israel had used "vigorous aggression" against Gaza that proved it did not want peace.

No clarity on ceasefire

But late on Tuesday, a spokesman for Jihad said a ceasefire agreement had been reached to restore calm.

"We've succeeded in repressing the aggression and preventing the change of the rules of engagement," a Hamas statement said early on Wednesday. 

"Many mediations have occurred in the past hours, and we've reached a consensus to return to the understandings of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip," it said, adding, "And we we will be committed to the ceasefire as long the Israeli occupation do."

On Wednesday, Khalil al Haya, a senior Hamas official, said that Egyptian mediators intervened "after the resistance succeeded in warding off the aggression."

Israeli cabinet minister Naftali Bennett, however, told Israel's Army Radio no agreement has been reached yet.

Explosions continued until late on Tuesday, with the Israeli army reporting sirens being triggered in a number of locations near the Gaza-Israel fence.

TRT World spoke with Tel Aviv-based journalist Jan Franke for more.

UNSC to discuss the current tension

The UN Security Council will meet on Wednesday to discuss the tensions, at the request of the United States which wants the top UN body to strongly condemn the attacks on Israel.

Tuesday's exchange of fire came after weeks of deadly unrest along the fence between Israel and the blockaded Palestinian enclave.

In a rare joint statement, Hamas and Islamic Jihad declared shared responsibility for the attacks, saying it was in retaliation for Israeli attacks targeting their positions.

Three members of Islamic Jihad were killed in an Israeli strike on Sunday, with the group vowing revenge.

Later Jihad spokesman Dawoud Shihab said an Egyptian-brokered agreement had been reached to return calm.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged a forceful response to the barrage of mortar shells fired.

"Israel takes a grave view of the attacks on it and its communities by Hamas and Islamic Jihad from the Gaza Strip. The IDF will respond to these attacks powerfully," he said during a conference in northern Israel.

Earlier on Monday, the Israeli military said its tank fire had killed a Palestinian at a frontier outpost while soldiers chased down and caught two other armed Palestinians who were allegedly trying to cross the fence into Israel.

This follows weeks of Palestinian mass demonstrations near the fence with border.

Israeli forces killed at least 116 Palestinians and wounded thousands including women and unarmed demonstrators in the protests, drawing foreign censure of Israel's deadly tactics. 

Israel claims Hamas is responsible for provoking the violence, which the group denies.

The Israeli action had prompted Palestine to ask the International Criminal Court (ICC) to open an "immediate investigation" into Israeli "crimes" committed against the Palestinian people.

The referral sought an investigation into Israeli policies in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem and the Gaza since the state of Palestine accepted the ICC's jurisdiction in 2014, Palestinian Foreign Minister, Riad al Maliki said. 

This includes Israeli settlement policies in the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem, as well as the recent round of bloodshed in the Gaza, where Israeli fire killed over 100 Palestinians during mass protests along the Gaza border, Malki added.

"There is a culture of impunity in Israel for crimes against Palestinians," Maliki said. "This referral is Palestine's test to the international mechanism of accountability and respect for international law."

Israeli soldiers stand guard next to an Israeli Iron Dome defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, deployed along the fence with the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018.
Israeli soldiers stand guard next to an Israeli Iron Dome defence system, designed to intercept and destroy incoming short-range rockets and artillery shells, deployed along the fence with the Gaza Strip on May 29, 2018. (AFP)

Kuwait at UN seeks backing for Palestinian protection

Meanwhile, Kuwait on Tuesday circulated a watered-down draft UNSC resolution on setting up an international protection mission for the Palestinians in a bid to win European support in a vote expected this week, diplomats said.

The council could hold a vote, possibly on Thursday, on the draft resolution that is expected to face a US veto, the diplomats said.

Still, Kuwait, a non-permanent council member that represents Arab countries, is hoping to win a high number of votes in favour of its proposal to highlight Washington's isolation on the Israeli-Palestinian issue.

The revised draft drops an outright demand for an international protection mission and instead requests that UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres present recommendations.

The new text "calls for the consideration of measures to guarantee the safety and protection of the Palestinian civilian population" in the occupied Palestinian territories and the Gaza Strip, according to the draft obtained by AFP news agency.

It requests that Guterres present a report within 60 days on  proposals for the protection of Palestinian civilians including the establishment of an international mission.

Israeli ambassador Danny Danon has slammed the proposed resolution as "shameful" and said it was designed to help Hamas.

Kuwait put forward the draft resolution ten days ago after Israeli forced killed scores of Palestinians during protests near the Gaza-Israel fence and the United States opened its embassy in Jerusalem.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies