12/19/2008, 00.00
PALESTINE - ISRAEL

Hamas declares an end to ceasefire with Israel

by Joshua Lapide
The Palestinian militants accuse Israel of failing to ease its blockade of the Gaza Strip; Israel accuses Hamas of launching rockets and motor fire against Sderot. The ceasefire was frequently violated by both sides. The people of Israel and Gaza want the end of hostilities and the continuation of the truce.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The armed branch of Hamas, the Qassam brigade, at 6 am (local time) declared the end of the six month old truce with Israel.  A statement issued via internet affirmed that “the ceasefire will not be renewed because the Zionist enemy has failed to respect the conditions”.

Already yesterday the Hamas spokesman said that the truce would not be renewed and that they would respond to all Israel attacks on Palestinian territories under their control, in short the Gaza Strip.

Ehud Barack, Israeli defence minister, has declared that if attacked Israel will respond.  “If the situation demands it – he said – we will take action”.

Israel and Hamas have accused each other of violating the truce that was negotiated through Egyptian intermediaries because the Jewish state regards the Islamists as a terrorist organisation. The Israeli government blames Hamas for not stopping attacks often carried out by smaller Palestinian factions, while the Islamists claim Israel also broke the truce by failing to lift its blockade of the impoverished territory. Israel responded to a surge of violence in early November by tightening sanctions and closing crossing points with Gaza, halting deliveries of humanitarian aid and other supplies, basically transforming the Strip into one huge gulag.

The truce, not formalised in any document, has been violated on countless occasions by both parts.  Gaza militants continue to launch rockets and mortars on Sderot and other Israeli locations; the Israeli airplanes carried out punitive raids on some areas of Gaza.

For some time now the population of Sderot has accused the government of Tel Aviv of not showing interest in their fate and more than 50% of Israelis want peace.  Even the people in Gaza feel they are not being heard: according to a survey, at least 74% of Gaza’s population wants the ceasefire between Hamas and Israel to continue.

 

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