dinsdag 13 maart 2012
Egypt reaches cease fire in Gaza
Islamic Jihad said on Tuesday it would adhere to its commitments under a truce deal brokered by Egypt to end four days of fighting with Israel that killed 25 Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. Jihad leader Daoud Shihab told Ma'an the deal was reached after many meetings and discussions with Egypt. The movement stressed it demanded that Israel halt assassinations of political leaders, Shihab said. The latest fighting was sparked when Israeli warplanes killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees on Friday.
Shihab said the group is committed to the truce as long as Israel adheres to its commitments. "We do not trust Israel, but we trust our power and if Israel does not commit, we will reply," he added. He called the truce a victory for Islamic Jihad, and a Palestinian achievement.
A senior Egyptian security official told Reuters that the deal to cease hostilities was set to take effect at 1 a.m. local time (2300 GMT). The official said in a telephone call from Cairo that both sides had "agreed to end the current operations", with Israel giving an unusual undertaking to "stop assassinations", and an overall agreement "to begin a comprehensive and mutual calm."
"There is an understanding," Israeli Civil Defense Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio. "At the moment the direction is toward calm and it appears, unless there are last minute developments, that this round is now behind us."
However, Amos Gilad, a senior Israeli defense official, said Israel would feel free to take "pre-emptive action" if Israeli lives were in danger -- a reference to future strikes against Palestinian militants believed to be planning attacks. But, he told Army Radio, if "there is quiet on their part, there will be quiet on our part."
In four days Israeli airstrikes killed 25, among them a number of Islamic Jihad fighters, as well as a 15-year old teenager, a 12-year-old boy, an elderly man and his daughter. At least 80 Palestinians, mostly civilians, have been wounded. Israel carrid out 37 air strikes. It said about 200 rockets have been fired at its southern towns and cities.