11/16/2012, 00.00
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Israel accepts brief truce in Gaza while massing troops on the border

Visit of Egyptian Prime Minister underway. Israel agrees to a cease-fire as long as Hamas militants respect it. 30 thousand reservists called up, trucks and buses full of soldiers heading to the border with Gaza.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) - Israel has agreed to a truce, stopping air strikes on Gaza to allow the visit of Egyptian Prime Minister Hisham Qandil to Palestinians in the Gaza Strip. The truce was requested yesterday from Egypt, the visit will last about three hours this morning at 9am (local time). Meanwhile, the Israeli media is reporting a call to arms of at least 30 thousand reservists and buses full of soldiers heading toward the border with the Gaza Strip.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said that the truce will be maintained only if the Palestinians also stop attacks.

Israeli aircraft continued to bomb the area throughout the night hitting 130 targets, from the Gaza Strip, the Palestinians have launched 11 missiles. Yesterday two missiles, with a range greater than usual, were launched on Tel Aviv, even if they ended up in the sea or in residential areas. Throughout the night, people remained on alert.

The escalation of fighting began two days ago with a series of Israeli air raids on Palestinian missile sites, from which militants continue to fire rockets on Israeli civilians near the Strip.

19 Palestinians have died in the operation, called "Pillar of defence", including a leader of the armed wing of Hamas, Ahmed Jabari. Three Israelis have been killed in the more than 300 rocket strikes from Gaza. There were more air strikes overnight that hit 70 underground missile bases, the Israeli navy has also bombed the Hamas bases on the Gaza shore.

Many of the Palestinians killed were militants, but there are also civilians, including four children among the dead. The three Israelis were killed yesterday in the village of Kiryat Malachi, all civilians.

The Israeli army this morning launched thousands of leaflets over Gaza, warning the people to "stay away from Hamas and other terrorist organizations."

This is the most decisive military operation by Israel against the Gaza Strip since "Operation Cast Lead", in January 2008, during which 1,400 Palestinians were killed, mostly civilians.

International diplomacy - the United States, European Union, Turkey - are struggling to ease tensions, but the Arab countries - especially those ruled by the Muslim Brotherhood close to Hamas - accuse Israel of "unacceptable aggression."

For its part, Hamas is strengthened with weaponry from Iran and Libya (after the fall of Gaddafi), Israel and Netanyahu in particular, want to show a firm hand in front of the threat of Islamic militancy in the proximity of elections in January.

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See also
Gaza: Israel says yes, Hamas no to Egyptian truce. 188 dead in Gaza
Israeli airstrikes in Gaza in response to rocket fire from the Strip
Hamas declares an end to ceasefire with Israel
Conflict between Israel and Hamas intensifies
Gaza: Another Israeli air raid by in response to rocket fire from the Strip


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