After reports of ceasefire, Israeli army lifts restrictions in south

Tel Aviv/Gaza City (dpa) - Following Palestinian reports of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the Israeli army early Monday lifted all protective restrictions imposed near the Gaza area during the weekend's flare-up in violence.

The Home Front Command instructed residents of the south to return to their routines. Schools and kindergartens in the area were allowed to open though some decided to remain closed following the bombardment of some 700 rockets that pounded Israel since Saturday.

The Israeli Transportation Ministry announced that all public bus routes in the south would return to full and normal operation. The railway line between the cities of Ashkelon and Beersheba was also set to resume later in the morning.
Following the most severe escalation of violence between Palestinians and Israelis since the 2014 Gaza War, Hamas indicated on Sunday that the group, which rules the Gaza Strip, was prepared to arrange a new ceasefire with Israel.
The conflict had reignited over the weekend, with Israel's army attacking more than 350 targets in Gaza in response to missile attacks by Palestinian militants.
Four people were killed in missile attacks on Israel, while at least 23 Palestinians were killed and 150 injured in counter-attacks by the Israeli army, according to the Ministry of Health in Gaza.
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Sunday night that a new truce could be possible if Israel also committed to a ceasefire. The Hamas leader also warned the conflict would continue unless Israel ended its ten-year blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Late Sunday US President Donald Trump warned Palestinians against further violence towards Israel.
"To the Gazan people — these terrorist acts against Israel will bring you nothing but more misery. END the violence and work towards peace - it can happen!" Trump tweeted.
"We support Israel 100 per cent in its defence of its citizens."
The escalation followed a short period of relative calm as Egypt and the United Nations worked to negotiate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, following the last flare-up at the end of March.
Israel and Egypt have imposed a blockade on Gaza for over a decade, citing security reasons.
Hamas is classified by the EU, Israel and the US as a terrorist organization.
Some 2 million people live in Gaza in difficult conditions. There is a shortage of drinking water and electricity, among other things.

Monday, May 6th 2019
By Tamara Zieve and Saud Abu Ramadan,

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