A week before Israelis head to the polls for the third time this year, tensions between the Israeli military and the Palestinians have ratcheted in two days of fire exchanges, while Islamic Jihad sources in the strip announce that a cease-fire will take effect starting 11:30 P.M. Monday.
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The hostilities began on Sunday, when Israel came under an intense barrage of rockets. According to the Israeli army, 26 rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip; 13 were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.
Later on Sunday night, six people were reportedly killed in midnight airstrikes in Syria. The Syrian army said that the strikes emanated from an Israeli aircraft that operated outside its airspace.
Islamic Jihad later confirmed two of the dead were their operatives, while the independent Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said four others were from Iran-backed militia.
Israel continued to face heavy rocket fire all Monday morning, with more than 15 rockets fired from the Strip. One of the rockets fell in a private home's yard and in a children's playground, but caused no damage or injuries. In retaliation, the Israeli army said it struck an underground Islamic Jihad infrastructure in the Strip.
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All work activities and public gatherings are now allowed in the Gaza border area "to allow a gradual return to routine", a statement by the IDF said on Tuesday morning.
Schools remain closed for Tuesday however.
8:23 A.M. Home Front Command rescinds instruction to remain close to shelters in southern Israel
The Home Front Command, however, hasn't yet authorized large gatherings in open areas in the south. In addition, Israeli farmers are instructed to stay away at least three kilometers away from the Gaza border fence while working the land.
8:06 A.M. Train movement to resume in southern Israel after two days of Gaza hostilities, main roads to open.
6:33 A.M. Calm persists after Islamic Jihad announced cease-fire with Israel
Tense calm persisted along the Gaza border Tuesday morning. Schools in southern Israel, however, will remain closed for second day in a row amid fear of Gaza rocket fire.
11:50 P.M. Eight Gazans lightly wounded by Iron Dome shrapnel
The Palestinians were sent for treatment in the northern Strip, the Gaza Health Ministry reported.
11:43 P.M. Rocket lands in an open area in the southern kibbutz Nahal Oz
11:27 P.M. Islamic Jihad sources report that a cease-fire will take effect starting 11:30 P.M.
11:13 P.M. Rocket sirens sound off in the southern kibbutz Nahal Oz
10:27 P.M. Sirens sound in the Eshkol Regional Council
10:20 P.M. Rocket lands near a building in Eshkol community, shrapnel causes damage
No casualties were reported after a rocket landed near a building in the Eshkol Regional Council. Shrapnel caused slight damage to the building.
10:09 P.M. Israel announces closure of all border crossings with Gaza
The military has annoucned that it is shutting all border crossings with Gaza, with some vital humanitarian equipment being allowed in and some exceptions being made for severe humanitarian cases. The fishing zone off Gaza's coast will be entirely off-limits, as well.
9:52 P.M. Rocket alert sirens sound in Eshkol Regional Council
9:45 P.M. Gaza border schools to remain closed Tuesday, mayors and army decide
Gaza border community mayors and military figures have decided that schools in Sderot and the Sha'ar Hanegev, Hof Ashkelon, Eshkol and Sadot Negev Regional Councils will remain closed Tuesday as well.
8:56 P.M. Gantz: Netanyahu has failed on security
Kahol Lavan Chairman and Netanyahu election rival Benny Gantz slams the prime minister, saying, "Netanyahu, you failed. You appointed defense ministers as part of a political campaign and you appointed a puppet cabinet, all because you are focused on your trial."
8:50 P.M. Lawmaker Heba Yazbak says Gaza paying price for government's cruel policy
Lawmaker Heba Yazbak, from the Joint List alliance of Arab-led parties, says that "in each election campaign, Gaza pays the price for the government's oppressive, cruel policy." Yazbak also calls for an end to the blockade of Gaza and to the occupation, syaing it was the only way "to reach a diplomatic settlement that will prevent the coninution of the bloodshed."
8:37 P.M. Israel strikes Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza
The military says more airstrikes have been launched on Islamic Jihad targets in Gaza, including a naval weapons depot and training compounds.
8:22 P.M. Reports in Gaza of cease-fire to begin at 10 P.M.
Islamic Jihad's spokesman says Israel has continued strkes despite the group's announcement that it had finished firing rockets, "and therefore we responded with another barrage." Reports from Gaza meanwhile say factions in the Strip are willing to begin a cease-fire at 10 P.M.
8:00 P.M. Rocket alert siren sounds in Kissufim, a community near the Gaza border
7:30 P.M. Gaza faction says two fighters wounded
A group in Gaza says one of its fighters has been wounded in an exchange of fire with Israeli troops and that another was seriously wounded when his motorcycle was targeted in a strike.
7:18 P.M. Israel continuing to strike Islamic Jihad posts in Gaza
6:50 P.M. Military says 50 rockets fired at Israel as of 6 P.M., interception rate at 90 percent
6:44 P.M. Islamic Jihad military wing says response to 'Israeli crimes' over
Islamic Jihad's military wing says it has ended its military response to "Israeli crimes" in Gaza and Damascus.
6:07 P.M. Military says it struck seven Islamic Jihad military posts
The military says planes and tanks have struck seven Islamic Jihad military positions.
6:00 P.M. Authorities announce closure of border crossing
The coordinator for government activities in the territories says the Erez Crossing will be shutuntil further notice. This includes a full halt to the entry of Gazan businesspeople into Israel. The permitted fishing zone off Gaza's coast will be limited to six miles.
5:35 P.M. Hamas spokesman: Israel's threats will lead to 'unprecedented resistance'
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum says that Israeli threats of stronger retaliation "will encounter unprecedented resistance, and Israel must bear the responsibility."
5:27 P.M. Sirens wail in Eshkol Regional Council
5:11 P.M.: Israeli army says it struck Palestinian Islamic Jihad launchpad in Gaza
The Israeli military confirmed that it had struck a Palestinian Islamic Jihad target in the coastal enclave. A statement from the Israel Defense Forces said: "A short while ago, an Israeli army jet struck a launchpad of the terror organization Islamic Jihad in the northern Gaza Strip, from which rockets were fired a short while ago. A hit has been confirmed."
5:01 P.M.: Rocket sirens blare in Gaza-border community
Rocket sires were activated in the Eshkol Regional Council, bordering the Strip. The council instructed its residents to remain close to shelters "in light of the recent barrages and due to our past experiences."
4:56 P.M.: Israeli man wounded after fall en route to seek shelter
A resident of the southern port city of Ashkelon was injured when he fell as a rocket alert wailed in the city in the afternoon. The man, aged 55, was taken to a local hospital to receive medical treatment, where he was reported to be in stable condition.
4:49 P.M.: Rocket alarms sound in southern city of Sderot and in Sha'ar HaNegev Regional Council
4:21 P.M. Islamic Jihad spokespan: De-escalation depends on 'end of aggression toward Palestinians'
An Islamic Jihad spokesman says talks toward de-escalation are ongoing but that their success is dependent of "the cessation of the aggression against the Palestinian people."
12:31 P.M. Shrapnel found in Sderot playground
Sderot police have attended several areas in the city following the latest round of rockets, including at a playground where shrapnel was found, a police spokesperson said.
Jonathan Lis and Hagar Shezaf contributed to this report.