Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City on the Palestinian enclave, on 2 May 2023 (AFP)

Smoke rises above buildings in Gaza City on the Palestinian enclave, on 2 May 2023 (AFP)

Early on Wednesday, two Palestinian sources said that Israel and Palestinian armed groups in the beleaguered Gaza Strip reached an understanding on a cease-fire.

According to Reuters, the “reciprocal and simultaneous” ceasefire was negotiated by Egyptian, Qatari, and UN officials and went into force at 3:30 am local time.

Following the passing of a well-known Palestinian prisoner who was on a hunger strike in Israeli custody that day, Palestinian fighters launched rockets from Gaza at Israel that evening. Israel’s response was to attack the Gaza Strip with airstrikes and tank fire.

After being jailed for almost three months away from his home in the occupied West Bank, 45-year-old prisoner Khader Adnan passed away just hours before the exchange of gunfire.

The rocket attacks from Gaza were centred on the Israeli town of Sderot and other areas close to the frontier with Gaza. Palestinian media outlets reported explosions in the northern region of Gaza. The Israeli army said one Palestinian was killed in strikes, Haaretz reported.

The fighting has revived fears about an escalation of violence in the region.

In April, the Israeli military launched air strikes on Lebanon and the Gaza Strip after rockets were fired from Lebanon’s south in response to raids on Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied East Jerusalem.

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged Israel earlier on Tuesday to halt “unilateral measures” that could raise tensions further in his first meeting with Israel’s foreign minister.

Adnan was a well-known figure in Palestine, and had been arrested more than 10 times, spending a total of eight years behind bars.

A member of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad resistance group, Adnan had been on hunger strike in protest against his detention since 5 February, when he was arrested at his home in Arraba, a town in the occupied West Bank, south of Jenin.