06/18/2008, 00.00
ISRAEL – PALESTINE
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Israel accepts Gaza ceasefire with Hamas

The deal came over night. Palestinian and Egyptian mediators had announced the move yesterday. Tel Aviv wants Gilad Shalit freed and a control of illegal arms trading from Egypt. Hamas wants the Strip blockade lifted. A fragile truce.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Israeli radio has announced that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and defence minister Ehud Barak have approved a truce with the Hamas group in the Gaza Strip.  The decision was reached overnight, as defence ministry official Amos Gilad, returned from Cairo.  Gilad had been at a meeting with Egyptian mediators brokering the Hamas truce.

The Egyptian and Hamas parties had announced the truce already yesterday.  The truce is scheduled to begin at 0600 tomorrow and last 6 months.  Israel hopes that in this way, missile attacks from Gaza will cease to target Israeli cities along the south of the border, particularly those of  Sderot and Askelon. In Exchange Tel Aviv will loosen its blockade on the Strip.

Both parties have however warned that they will respond to attacks which have taken place ahead of the truce.  Gilad, has let it be known that they want negotiations to free the soldier Gilad Shalit, taken closet o the strip in 2006 and has asked Egypt to clamp down on illegal arms trade across their border with Gaza.

Since June 2007 Hamas has been in power in the Strip, expelling members of the Fatah group close to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Since then the people of Gaza have been struggling under a blockade of supplies, while Hamas has become increasingly isolated by the international community.

Yesterday, just hours before the announcement of the truce, Israeli missiles targeted Gaza killing 6 people among them fighters linked to Al Qaeda.

Many observers maintain the truce is very fragile.

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