The Quartet Committee for Middle East Peace, made up of United States, United Nations, European Union and Russia, yesterday called on Israel and Palestinians to show restraint and help last Thursday's truce deal hold. In a statement issued in Berlin's donor countries meeting, the Quartet urged the two parties to help the ceasefire hold, so that both Palestinians and Israelis alike can return to normal life.

The call for calm was in response to the firing of homemade rockets from Gaza into a nearby Israeli town in southern Gaza. The homemade shells shook the ceasefire after the Israeli army extra-judicially killed an Islamic Jihad fighter in the West Bank.

The Islamic Jihad group, which claimed responsibility for the homemade shells fired, said that this was an exceptional response to the Israeli army assassination attempt in the West Bank.

The ruling Hamas party in Gaza, which has undertaken long talks with Egyptian mediators to reach the latest ceasefire, called yesterday for Palestinian factions to show restraint, condemning the assassination attempt as ' one more Israeli crime'.

On Wednesday morning Israel sealed off all of Gaza's crossings, after they had been partially reopened earlier this week, as the Israeli army shot and wounded an elderly Palestinian farmer in southern Gaza.