Israel agrees to Gaza ceasefire
Less than 24 hours before going into effect, officials say truce expected to be 'short-lived and fragile.' Olmert's office says issue of Gilad Shalit part of understandings. 'We want to make the most of any opportunity to bring peace and quiet to residents of the South, but no one here is cracking open the champagne and declaring Hamas has beaten its swords into plowshares'
At 6:00 am on Thursday, IDF forces and Hamas' ranks will hold their fire and the ceasefire agreed upon in Cairo will hit the road. Hanging few hopes on the contested move, the Israeli government approved the truce proposal early Wednesday morning.
"All those involved say this is a fragile ceasefire destined for a short life,' a senior State official in Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's office said on Wednesday.
"We want to make the most of any opportunity to bring peace and quiet to residents of the South, but no one here is cracking open the champagne and declaring Hamas has beaten its swords into plowshares," he said.
The State official clarified that as opposed to Palestinian claims, the understandings include Israel's demand to advance negotiations for the release of kidnapped soldier Gilad Shalit.
"Gilad is part of this deal, no matter what Hamas says."
Olmert was briefed earlier in the morning on the final changes to the deal after Maj. Gen. Amos Gilad, head of the Defense Ministry's Security-Diplomatic Bureau, returned to Israel from overnight consultations in Egypt.
"As far as we’re concerned, this is a de-facto truce agreement, and the burden of proof lies on the shoulders of the Gaza terror groups. If they maintain it – we can move ahead. If not, then Israel will have to consider its next move," said officials in Olmert's office.
On the other side, as expected, the fate of the truce is put in different hands.
"We are determined to keep to the commitments, the ball is in Israel's court – it is the one meant to implement the understandings into real actions," said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu-Zuhari.