Israel and Hamas agree Gaza truce: officials

GAZA Mon Aug 22, 2011 4:01pm EDT

1 of 2. Bedouins pack aluminium sheets to transport through tunnels to Gaza in Rafah city, August 22, 2011.

Credit: Reuters/Asmaa Waguih

GAZA (Reuters) - Israel and the Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, have agreed to a ceasefire after five days of cross-border violence, officials said on Monday.

One official who was involved in mediating talks between Israel and Palestinian factions in Gaza said the groups had "reached an understanding on a truce and that the truce has started."

A Palestinian official said Hamas had agreed to ensure the recognition of the ceasefire by smaller militant groups which were responsible for most of the rockets fired at Israel in the latest surge in violence.

The Israeli security cabinet met earlier Monday and decided the military would cease its strikes in the Gaza Strip if militants there halted attacks on Israel, according to an Israeli official.

The fighting also sparked a diplomatic row between Israel and Egypt after five Egyptian security officers were killed as Israeli troops along the border pursued gunmen who had carried out a series of deadly attacks in Israel.

Like similar arrangements in the past, the truce is not a formal agreement, but consists of each side saying it would halt hostilities if the other side did the same.

Eight Israelis -- six civilians and two soldiers -- were killed Thursday when the gunmen crossed into southern Israel and opened fire on a number of vehicles on a quiet desert road. At least seven of the attackers were killed, Israel said.

A total of 15 Palestinians, including five civilians, and one Israeli were killed in the subsequent cross-border air strikes and rocket attacks.

Israel blamed the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) in Gaza for the attack and killed two of its leaders and three of its militants in an air strike shortly afterwards.

But it said the gunmen had entered Israel from the Sinai desert and raised doubts as to whether Egypt was able to maintain control in the border area.

Egypt's cabinet, facing growing pressure for a tough response to the killing of the five Egyptian security personnel, was due Monday to discuss the growing lawlessness along the border.

The PRC, whose members fired many of the rockets launched over the past few days, agreed to "temporarily halt firing rockets to preserve the interest of our people," but said it remained dedicated to the goal of Israel's destruction.

Israeli leaders, looking to lower tensions, have expressed regret over the Egyptian deaths and reiterated that Egypt is an important and strategic ally.

They have also said they want to avoid further escalations in violence with the Palestinians, which analysts said could hurt Israel ahead of a Palestinian statehood bid next month in the United Nations.

(Editing by Tim Pearce)

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Comments (7)
colindale wrote:
Looks like the chickens are coming home to roost. You cannot blockade 500,000 families in Gaza for four years and expect Egypt and surrounding states in which Palestinian exiles live, not to plan action to remedy the injustice and the loss of life. It is extraordinary how myopic is the current right-wing government of Israel to imagine that there would be no consequences to its repression. The same applies to Turkey. You cannot board a Turkish vessel in international waters, claim to be operating a blockade against a civilian population, and then board and kill nine civilians in cold blood – and expect no consequences. Again, you cannot contaminate one third of Lebanon by deliberately dropping thousands of cluster bombs in an attempt to kill and maim generations of Lebanese, and not expect any consequences from that inhumane action that has made the land uninhabitable. And in the West Bank and East Jerusalem, you cannot seize homes and private property at gun point and expect there to be no consequences of such criminal actions. There will be consequences.

Aug 22, 2011 5:54am EDT  --  Report as abuse
USAalltheway wrote:
The US and EU need to stop funding the welfare state of Palestine. All they do with the billions of aid they receive is build bombs, rockets and propoganda. The palestininans are not building factories to build products people around the world want and create jobs and build their own economy. Instead they just perpetrate violence. No more tax dollars for Palestine

Aug 22, 2011 7:25am EDT  --  Report as abuse
MortimerS wrote:
In response to colindale:
Lies and more lies:
1) the blockade is of an entity which has openly vowed to kill as many civilians of their enemy as possible; food and medicine are allowed in, but arms are excluded. To use this as a justification, as you do, for the continued intentional slaughter of enemy civilians is reprehensible.
2) The men on that Turkish vessel, were NOT unarmed. They used clubs and metal pipes, among other weapons, to attack the commandos. See the upcoming UN report. For you to deny what you saw with your own eyes, as those commandos were attacked, is, again, reprehensible. A perfect example of “innocently” using a phrase (“in cold blood”) to lie for the sake of propaganda.
3)Lebanon was the base for countless rocket attacks, and, before that, terrorist infiltrations. When a nation is used as a base for attacks on a neighbor, that neighbor has the right to go in and root out the sorce of those attacks.
4) For you to justify, as you do, the killing of civilians, because of the seizing of homes and private property, is reprehensible. The phrase you use: “There will be consequences” is a giveaway; a clear threat of more killing of civilians for such so-called criminal actions. And even if there is theft involved here, perpetrated by one national entity against another, since when is theft a capital crime, with the punishment to be meted out (intentionally) on the civilians? Should Turkey’s citizens be killed because their nation has confiscated the land and property of Kurds, Armenians and Greeks? The intentional killing of civilians is murder. It’s like the difference between Al Qaeda and the UK. The UK doesn’t intend these days to kill any civilians, but, unfortunately, sometimes they do so. Al Qaeda, on the other hand intends to kill civilians. Not equivalent, and civilians don’t deserve to be killed, ever. And apologize if you kill them by mistake. Then compensate the survivors. Go ahead; do so

Aug 22, 2011 7:29am EDT  --  Report as abuse
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