02:34 GMT +317 February 2019
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    Violence continues in Gaza as ceasefire approaches

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    TEL AVIV/GAZA STRIP, June 18 (RIA Novosti) - With less than 24 hours to go until the start of a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, Israeli planes have twice attacked the north of the Gaza Strip, an Israeli army spokesman said on Wednesday.

    The target of the attacks was a group of Palestinian militants involved in the shelling of towns in southern Israel. Two militants were injured, one of them seriously. The air strikes came after six rockets and mortars were fired toward Israel early on Wednesday, the Israeli army said. No injuries were reported.

    The ceasefire deal between Israel and Hamas was brokered by Egypt, and received the approval of Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak late last night. The ceasefire will come into force at 6:00 a.m. (03:00 GMT) on Thursday and is set to last for six months.

    Hamas has ruled the Gaza Strip since last June after seizing control of the enclave from the Fatah movement, led by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

    In Gaza, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said the truce would benefit both the sides. "The calm is going to bring stability to Israel if they commit themselves to it," he said, adding that it would also "ease the lives" of people living in the Gaza Strip.

    "We hope Thursday will be the beginning of a new reality where Israeli citizens in the south will no longer be on the receiving end of continuous rocket attacks," said Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev. "Israel is giving a serious chance to this Egyptian initiative and we want it to succeed."