Israel launches airstrikes in Gaza Monday
Israel said it was responding to rocket attacks Sunday.
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In a separate incident, an Israeli gunboat fired a shell at a Palestinian fishing boat off the northern Gaza coast, reports the Associated Press.Skip to next paragraph
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The military said the boat had strayed beyond limits Israel has set for fishermen, and that the gunfire was meant as a deterrent.
Palestinian officials said the fishing boat was damaged but no one was injured.
This violence coincides with an announcement on Monday in the Egyptian newspaper Al Gomhuria that Israel and Hamas are expected to finalize a cease-fire agreement within 48 hours, reports Ynet.
The deal is set to include two stages: An oral agreement on both sides to hold fire, followed by a written agreement for a one-year truce at least.
According to the Egyptian report, Hamas strongman Mahmoud al-Zahar is expected to return to Cairo with a positive answer to the proposals presented to the organization by Egypt. Turkey was also said to be involved in the talks.
Israel wants militants to halt their attacks, end arms smuggling into Gaza and release an Israeli soldier Hamas has held captive for more than 2-1/2 years.
Hamas wants an end to Israel's economic blockade of Gaza, which has severely restricted the movement of goods since Hamas seized power in June 2007. It also has demanded the release of more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners held by Israel in return for the soldier, Sgt. Gilad Schalit. Hundreds of the prisoners have been involved in deadly attacks on Israel, and their release would likely generate unease if not outright controversy.