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Projectiles fired at Israel as Gaza ceasefire announced

Aug. 21, 2011 5:35 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 22, 2011 11:53 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- Four projectiles and several mortars have been fired at Israel from the Gaza Strip, an Israeli army spokeswoman said Sunday.

Two projectiles were launched at Ashkelon and two others landed in the Hof Ashkelon regional council.

No injuries were reported.

The latest escalation comes as a Hamas official told AFP on Sunday that Palestinian factions had reached an "informal" agreement on a halt to projectile attacks.

"We have reached an informal agreement to establish a ceasefire from tonight on condition that Israel halts its attacks," he said on condition of anonymity.

The projectiles were reportedly fired at 8.30 p.m. winter saving time, but 9.30 p.m. Israeli time, Israel's Haaretz reported, noting that it is still unclear as to whether the ceasefire will be implemented.

Islamic Jihad claimed the attacks, which came before the report of the "informal" deal to halt attacks.

A spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committee [PRC] said that they would not accept the ceasefire, Israeli news site Ynet reported.

"Our stance is clear. We have no connection to the ceasefire agreement with the Zionist enemy," Ynet quoted Abu Mujahed as telling a Palestinian news agency.

Israel must take responsibility for its actions, Abu Mujahed said, referring to the assassination of PRC leaders in the Gaza Strip.

The ceasefire is "cursed," he added.

Earlier, a senior Islamic Jihad leader told AFP that Egyptian officials had held talks with some of Gaza's military factions in order to secure a ceasefire agreement.

Although Gaza's Hamas leaders were not there in person, a senior official from the Islamist movement confirmed they were in touch with the Egyptians by phone.

Israel began bombarding the Gaza Strip after militants staged a series of bloody shooting attacks in the Negev desert on Thursday, killing eight Israelis and prompting a wave of bloody tit-for-tat exchanges.

Israel blamed the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committee for the Eilat attacks, although the group denied involvement.

AFP contributed to this report
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