Palestinian militants have said that they would halt attacks into Israel from the Gaza Strip after they fired the heaviest rocket salvoes across the border in months. The Islamic Jihad, one of the armed groups that operates in Gaza, said it fired the rockets in retaliation for Israel's killing of four Palestinian protesters on Friday. Israel in response struck dozens of targets in the Gaza Strip on Saturday. Video footage showed several of the rockets from Gaza being shot down by Israel’s Iron Dome air defence system. No casualties were reported on either side. Israel took the unusual step of claiming Syria and Iran had been behind the attacks and hinted that their response would not be limited to Gaza. A fireball exploding during Israeli air strikes in Gaza City. Credit: AP "The rockets that were launched against Israel... we know that the orders, incentives were given from Damascus with the clear involvement of the Iranian Revolutionary Guards' Quds Force," Lieutenant Colonel Jonathan Conricus, an army spokesman, said, referring to the Guards' foreign operations unit. Lt Col. Conricus told reporters Israel's response "is not limited geographically." Israel has regularly hit Iranian targets in Syria, but has never struck these sites in response to bombardments from Gaza. Islamic Jihad is an Iranian-backed military group that sometimes operates independently of Gaza's Hamas rulers. Its armed wing initially threatened to continue and expand its rocket fire. But by the afternoon, the group's spokesman announced an immediate ceasefire. Palestinians gather at the site devastated after an Israeli airstrike hit a five-storey building in the Gaza Strip in response to rockets said were fired towards the country Credit: Analdolu The biggest rocket barrage from Gaza in months came despite talk of progress towards an Egyptian-brokered deal to end months of often violent protests along the border in return for an easing of Israel's crippling 11-year blockade. Last week, Israel reopened the people and goods border crossings with Gaza and on Wednesday renewed the flow of Qatar-funded fuel to the Palestinian enclave, in an indication of its confidence that Hamas would rein in violence. The Friday border marches however drew 16,000 protesters, some of them clashing with Israeli soldiers. Five Palestinians were shot dead by Israeli fire in separate incidents along the border fence, the Gaza health ministry said. Saleh an-Nami, a political analyst in Gaza, said the rocket fire would weaken Hamas's efforts to reach a long-term truce and showed it was unable to impose its position on other factions. "It embarrasses Hamas in front of regional and global mediators that are intervening to achieve a truce," he said.
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