Hamas celebrates Lieberman resignation as 'political victory'

Gaza-Israel frontier calms as ceasefire takes hold

An official from Netanyahu's Likud party hit back at speculation that early elections would be called and said the prime minister would take charge of Lieberman's portfolio at least temporarily. "We are buying short-term calm for long-term harm to security".

That gives Netanyahu only a very slim majority in his coalition, which could bring about the collapse of his government and force early elections.

Netanyahu defended the agreement during a speech on Wednesday, saying he understood the public criticism but that some security-based decisions had to be made without public involvement.

Lieberman's resignation comes amid his rumoured disagreement with Prime Minister Netanyahu over the latter's push for a ceasefire with Hamas that wrapped up almost two days of intense shelling and missile attacks from both sides across the Gaza border. "But in times of crisis, when making critical decisions in the field of security, the public can not always be a partner in the crucial considerations that must be concealed from the enemy".

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

The rulers of Gaza said they would fire rockets at the southern Israeli towns of Beersheba and Ashdod if provoked, a significant threat from the group that has tried to disavow rocket launches emanating from the Strip this year.

Meanwhile, Islamist movement, Hamas, called Israeli Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman's resignation on Wednesday following a controversial ceasefire deal a "political victory for Gaza".

Israel and Egypt immediately imposed a blockade on Gaza to contain Hamas.

Four Israeli ministers, however, have announced their opposition to the deal, including Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

"Leadership also means standing up to criticism when you know things that are classified and which you can not share with the public that you love", he said in a speech.

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The escalation has come despite Mr Netanyahu's decision to allow Qatar to transfer millions of dollars in aid to the Gaza Strip for salaries as well as fuel to ease an electricity shortage.

"At these moments, leadership is not to do the easy thing; leadership is to do the right thing, even if it is hard".

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a post published on his official Twitter page that the move is an Israeli "recognition of its defeat at the hands of the Palestinian resistance".

The latest round of violence was triggered by a botched Israeli raid on Sunday that left seven Palestinian militants and a senior Israeli military officer dead.

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

Seven Palestinians were killed in Gaza as Israeli strikes targeted militants and flattened buildings in the worst escalation of violence since the 2014 war between Israel and Hamas.

Palestinian groups responded with rocket and mortar fire, as well as an anti-tank missile that hit a bus Hamas says was being used by Israeli soldiers.

With air raid sirens wailing throughout southern Israel and the explosions of airstrikes thundering in Gaza, the two sides had appeared to be on the verge of their fourth war in a decade.

Israeli missile defences intercepted more than 100 rockets from Gaza and most others fell in open areas, though some hit houses and other civilian structures, the military said.

According to Fox News, the skirmish ended when militant groups in Gaza agreed to the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire on Tuesday.

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