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  • » 12/16/2008, 00.00

    PALESTINE - ISRAEL

    Uncertainty over ceasefire between Hamas and Israel

    Joshua Lapide

    The militant groups say it will end on December 19. But the majority of the people in Gaza are asking that it be continued.

    Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Islamic Jihad is ready to reject a ceasefire with Israel beginning on December 19. A statement released today by the Palestinian militant group says that "the ceasefire with the enemy has not permitted us to reach our objectives [editor's note: meaning the end of the Israeli blockade on Gaza] and represents a threat for our people."

    The rejection of Islamic Jihad follows a few days after statements by Khaled Meshaal, the head of Hamas in Syria, according to whom "the ceasefire was limited to December 19. Since the enemy is not respecting its commitments, and the siege [of Gaza] is still underway against our people, for Hamas . . . the ceasefire ends after December 19, and will not be renewed."

    The ceasefire, reached six months ago with Egyptian mediation, does not have an official character, but brought with it a reduction in hostility between Israel and the Hamas militants in Gaza, accentuated by the rocket attacks against Israeli territory, and by the seizure of power in the Gaza Strip by Hamas in June of 2007.

    In recent weeks, the ceasefire has been violated repeatedly. Militant groups, apparently escaping the control of Hamas, have launched rockets and mortar shells against Israel, and Israeli soldiers have made various incursions into Palestinian territory. According to independent sources, last week at least 22 rockets and 23 mortar rounds were launched from Gaza; Israeli soldiers carried out two armed incursions.

    The majority of the Palestinian population in Gaza, suffocated by a strict embargo, are asking for the ceasefire to continue. According to a survey by the Palestinian Centre for Policy and Survey Research, at least 74% of the inhabitants of Gaza are asking for a continuation of the ceasefire between Israel and Hamas.

    In Ramallah, Mahmoud Abbas, head of the Palestinian Authority, has asked for the ceasefire to be maintained. "Its violation," he said, "is in no one's interest . . . We are asking all parties to maintain it. Its end would aggravate the sufferings of our people."

    The Israeli government, involved in an electoral campaign, does not seem unanimous on the extension of the ceasefire. Ehud Barak, the foreign minister, has said that "if the ceasefire holds, Israel will respect it. If it does not, then we will react with appropriate military means."

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    See also

    29/02/2008 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    The signs are increasing that a land attack on Gaza is near
    The invasion would be motivated by the growing number of rockets launched against Israelis by the Palestinians, in spite of the bloody raids by Israeli air forces. The press in Jerusalem sees an invasion as inevitable and close.

    27/12/2008 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    At least 70 dead, initial tally of Israeli retaliation against Hamas
    Aircraft bearing the Star of David this morning began attacking fundamentalist targets. President Peres denies that his country wants to reoccupy Gaza. Egypt is trying to stop the violence.

    19/01/2009 ISRAEL - PALESTINE
    Gaza: truce for a week. Israel begins gradual withdrawal of troops
    In the wake of Israel’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire, Hamas and the Islamic Jihad groups announce a truce. From the European Leaders summit in Egypt promises of funds for reconstruction and security forces.

    18/06/2008 ISRAEL – PALESTINE
    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.

    19/12/2008 PALESTINE - ISRAEL
    Hamas declares an end to ceasefire with Israel
    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.



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