Two dead in protests in Gaza but the truce between Israel and Hamas

Two Palestinians, including a doctor, were killed by Israeli gunfire on the Gaza border, but far from the protests, calm came after a deadly attack between the rulers of the Hamas enclave and the Israeli army.

At least 131 Palestinians were attacked with Israeli gunfire in the protests, the health ministry in Gaza said, and volunteer doctor Abdullah al-Qatati died Friday after being hit in eastern Rafah, in southern Gaza.

Family members of the 21-year-old doctor met at the morgue of a hospital in Khan Yunis where his body lay, while his colleagues cried.

A 55-year-old Palestinian, Ali al-Alul, was killed by Israeli gunfire on the same stretch of the border.

A few thousand demonstrators had gathered in different places along the border with Israel, setting fire to the tires and throwing stones, but there were fewer people who demonstrated in the previous weeks, said AFP correspondents.

In the demonstrations on Friday, a total of 307 people were injured, some by tear gas, including two journalists and five doctors.

Palestinian protesters flee the border region after Israeli security forces used tear gas.

Palestinian protesters flee the border region after Israeli security forces used tear gas.

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The Israeli army said a grenade had been fired at troops in northern Gaza that did not harm any soldiers.

"In response to the violent riots, IDF (army) tanks attacked two Hamas posts in the northern Gaza Strip," the army said on Twitter.

The protests came after an agreement to end all rocket attacks on Israel and air strikes in the Gaza Strip appeared to take effect around midnight (2100 GMT) on Thursday.

There was no official confirmation from Israel or the Islamist rulers of Gaza, Hamas, but there were no new attacks on Friday.

Dangerously close & # 39; of the conflict

On Thursday there were extensive Israeli raids in retaliation for the launch of more than 180 rockets and mortar rounds by Hamas and its allies on Wednesday night.

Three Palestinians were killed in the Israeli attacks, including a pregnant woman and her 18-month-old daughter, while seven Israelis were wounded by Palestinian rocket fire while hundreds took refuge in anti-aircraft shelters.

The European Union said on Friday that "the death of the pregnant Palestinian mother and her son in this latest escalation is a tragic loss."

It was one of the most serious escalations since the Gaza war of 2014 and followed months of growing tensions.

Late on Thursday, an Israeli air strike leveled a five-story building that housed a cultural center in Gaza City but which, according to the army, was used by Hamas security forces.

The Israeli security cabinet and the Hamas leadership met separately on Thursday, with the truce offered by Egypt and the United Nations on the table.

A wounded journalist is taken to an ambulance after Israeli forces opened fire. Two people died in the clashes.

A wounded journalist is taken to an ambulance after Israeli forces opened fire. Two people died in the clashes.

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Neither Israel nor Hamas officially confirmed that no truce had entered into force, although that has also been the case with previous informal agreements.

It would be the third truce of that kind in a month.

Reserve General Doron Almog, former head of the southern Israeli command over Gaza, told army radio Friday morning that the next 24 hours would be crucial.

"We are closer to an agreement than in the past because Hamas's interest in an agreement is greater than its desire to escalate," he said.

The European Union said Gaza and Israel are "dangerously close" to a new conflict, and called for urgent "de-escalation" to prevent civilians from taking more risks.

Hamas and Israel have fought three wars since 2008.

Diplomatic efforts

The Israeli newspaper Maariv wrote that during the meeting of the security cabinet on Thursday, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman was a lone voice in support of a new war in Gaza.

"He was the only one who demanded to launch a large-scale operation in the Gaza Strip, Netanyahu opposed, and he (the Israeli army) did not recommend it either," he said.

The Palestinians have been protesting along the Gaza-Israel border on Fridays since the end of March.

They call for an end to the Israeli blockade of Gaza for a decade and the return of Palestinian refugees to their ancestral homes within Israel, from which they fled or were expelled during the war that surrounded the creation of Israel in 1948.

Israel says its blockade is necessary to isolate Hamas, although critics say it amounts to collective punishment of Gaza's two million residents.

He says that any significant return of the refugees would mean the end as a Jewish state.

At least 167 Palestinians have been killed since the protests began on March 30.

Most were killed by Israeli fire during the protests, but others died in air strikes.

An Israeli soldier was shot to death by a Palestinian sniper.