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Hamas says it doesn’t want a new war with Israel amid a UN call for restraint

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The leader of Hamas says his group is “not interested in a new war” with Israel, after two days of heavy rocket fire from Gaza and Israeli airstrikes on the blockaded territory.

Ismail Haniyeh said in a statement late Sunday that the militant group is ready to “return to the state of calm” if Israel stops its attacks “and immediately starts implementing understandings about a dignified life.”

Israel has fought three wars with Gaza militants since 2008 and has blockaded the territory for more than a decade.

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On Sunday, the Israeli military said in a statement that its forces killed a Hamas commander in the Gaza Strip in what the military described as a targeted strike and Palestinians said was the first such action since the 2014 war in the Palestinian enclave.

Palestinian witnesses said he was killed in an air strike on his car.

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UN chief appeals for restraint in Gaza flare-up

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres appealed on Sunday for “maximum restraint” following the escalation.

“He condemns in the strongest terms the launching of rockets from Gaza into Israel, particularly the targeting of civilian population centers,” a UN statement said.

“He urges all parties to exercise maximum restraint, immediately de-escalate and return to the understandings of the past few months,” it said, according to AFP.

Guterres’s special envoy Nickolay Mladenov was “working closely with Egypt and all concerned to restore calm,” the statement said.