Ex-Bahrain minister warns of joint Arab-Israel conspiracy against Palestine

Ahmed Abu Saif'I expected to see my building burned to the ground one day

Celebrations are taking place on the streets of Gaza following a ceasefire deal after two days of heavy Israeli bombardment on Gaza.

But late on Tuesday, the joint command of the Palestinian armed factions in Gaza said in a statement they would abide by a ceasefire "as long as the Zionist enemy does the same".

The exchanges that followed were the fiercest since the Gaza war in 2014, the third between Israel and Hamas in a decade as part of the wider Israel-Palestinian conflict.

UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov said he was working with Egypt so "Gaza steps back from the brink", and called for restraint on both sides.

Several Israeli reporters tweeted that the country's security cabinet unanimously voted for a ceasefire, but this has not been confirmed by an official source.

Those efforts had appeared to be making progress in recent days as Israel allowed Qatar to deliver financial aid to the cash-strapped Hamas administration, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared that he wanted to avert an "unnecessary" war in Gaza.

Hamas said it was retaliating for a botched Israeli commando raid in Gaza that killed one of its commanders and six others on Sunday.

Tuesday's ceasefire did not appear to address any of the underlying issues, including the blockade and Hamas' vast arsenal of rockets, and it was unclear whether United Nations and Egyptian efforts toward a broader deal might resume.

An anti-tank missile also hit a bus that Hamas says was being used by Israeli soldiers. A soldier was severely wounded.

The military said it struck some 160 targets in the Gaza Strip.

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Israeli troops have killed more that 220 Palestinians during those confrontations, which have included border breaches.

Israel hit back with major air strikes, with targets including Hamas's Al-Aqsa TV station and internal security headquarters in Gaza City.

"What happened was like an natural disaster", said Abu Ayman Lemzeni, who lives near the destroyed TV building.

The latest round of violence began on Sunday, when Israeli special forces were exposed operating inside the Gaza Strip.

Hamas seized control of Gaza in 2007 from forces loyal to the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, which has been seeking ways to regain power over the small territory.

Israel said the covert operation was an intelligence-gathering mission.

Violence has simmered since Palestinians launched weekly border protests on March 30 to demand the easing of the blockade on Gaza and rights to lands lost in the 1948 war of Israel's founding.

At least 234 Palestinians in Gaza have since been killed by Israeli fire, the majority during protests and clashes.

Two Israeli soldiers have been killed over the same period.



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