June 14 (UPI) — Militant group Hamas on Thursday called on mediators to save the Gaza truce that was brokered in May, amid escalating tensions in the Middle East.
Khalil al-Haya, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, called for Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations to preserve the May agreement between Hamas and Israel, which was brokered by Egyptian mediators. The calls came ahead of a scheduled visit by Egyptian security officials to the Gaza Strip in search of a resolution.
The Israeli army struck Hamas targets in Gaza Thursday as retaliation for rocket fire Thursday into Israel border communities, military officials said. It was the first rocket attack since the cease-fire agreement took effect.
The truce followed more than 700 rockets fired from Gaza into Israel, which killed four Israelis and injured more than 200 in two days. In Gaza, 25 Palestinians died and more than 150 were hurt by Israeli strikes.
Tensions have escalated further since the Israeli army announced a maritime blockade on the Gaza Strip Wednesday, as incendiary balloons touched off eight fires in south Israel. Al-Haya denied charges that Hamas and other Palestinian factions were responsible, instead blaming Israeli farmers seeking government compensation.
Al-Haya added that the weekly Great March of Return protests on the Gaza-Israel border will continue until all goals are met — including the lifting of a 12-year-old blockage of the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave. Those Friday protests began early last year.