Israeli tanks move near the Israel Gaza border, Tuesday, Nov. 13, 2018. (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

 A ceasefire has been reached between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza following three-days of extreme violence which saw a number of Palestinians killed, more than 400 rockets fired on southern Israel from Gaza and dozens of bombing sorties carried out by the Israeli Air Force on targets in the coastal territory.
The violence was triggered by a botched Israeli military intelligence operation carried out 3 km inside Gaza territory, towards the end of last week. Hamas gunmen intercepted an Israeli commando unit, leading to a gun and air battle, resulting in the death of seven Hamas members and one Israeli soldier. This triggered the massive rocket barrage on Israel from Gaza.
Following intensive mediation by the Egyptians and the United Nations, the ceasefire was declared on Tuesday night. But it remains fragile with both sides saying they would abide by it as long as the other side refrained from aggression.
Both sides also appear to not want a new war, following several wars over the years between Hamas and Israel, which collectively left hundreds of Palestinians dead, many more injured while Israeli casualties were minimal.
However, both sides are also under pressure from members of their respective governments, as well as political opponents, to take a more hard-line military approach.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has come under fire from his defence minister Avigdor Lieberman, as well as other Israeli Knesset members (parliamentarians), for not taking stronger military action against Hamas. According to fresh reports this led to Lieberman's resignation
Simultaneously, while Hamas' political leadership initially accepted that the botched Israeli military operation was an intelligence gathering operation gone wrong, more militant members of the movement, supported by other Palestinian factions, demanded that Israel pay a price for the death of the seven Palestinians while warning that they will respond to any further Israeli attacks.
And to outline just how precarious the current ceasefire is, one has to remember that shortly before this latest outbreak of violence an agreement of sorts had been reached between Israel and Hamas, through third-party intermediaries.
Hamas had agreed to halt the Great March of Return protests on the border between Gaza and Israel which have led to the deaths of over 200 Palestinians in clashes with Israeli soldiers. The marches were in protest at the continuing siege of Gaza and the desperate humanitarian situation on the ground.
In return, the Jewish state had agreed to significantly ease its Gaza blockade, enforced in conjunction with Egypt, of the strip. The situation was looking hopeful – until the botched military raid.
Now with the newly agreed ceasefire, Palestinians in Gaza are living in hope – and fear.
Gaza city resident Muhammad Abu Kwaik, his three young children, wife and parents, were forced to take shelter in their basement during the Israeli bombardment when a mosque near his home was destroyed in an Israeli air raid.
"My parents were terrified, and my wife and children were crying hysterically," Abu Kwaik told the African News Agency (ANA) during a telephone interview from Gaza.
"What made the situation so scary was that some pieces of concrete from the mosque landed in our house and one of my friends was injured by the shelling," said Abu Kwaik.
"But now with the ceasefire we have some hope that the humanitarian situation in Gaza will improve and we might see peace even though we know that the situation could once again deteriorate," he added.
Meanwhile, a diplomatic source involved in the ceasefire agreement told the Israeli daily Haaretz that "the situation remains very precarious and can blow up again. What we have seen in the past 48 hours was very dangerous and no efforts should be spared to avoid similar flare-ups".
- African News Agency (ANA)