Truce reached?
Photo: EPA

Islamic Jihad says will respect truce; rockets fired at south

Gaza's Jihad spokesman says group will abide by Egypt-brokered ceasefire if Israel 'halts aggression.' Israel says quiet will be met with quiet; three rockets fired at western Negev

A ceasefire agreement has been secured between Palestinian terror groups in the Gaza Strip and Israel, the al-Arabiya network reported Monday night.


A senior Egyptian security official later confirmed the report, saying the truce went into effect at 1:00 am Tuesday.


Despite the reported truce, two Qassam rockets and a mortar shell exploded in the area between Sha'ar Hanegev and Ashkelon Coast regional councils.


No injuries or damage were reported. The Color Red alerts sounded in the area prior to the explosions.


According to the report, the truce was finalized via Egyptian mediation and without pre-conditions. However, Israeli officials denied earlier that a deal was reached, saying that airstrikes in Gaza will be halted only once rocket attacks end.


The officials did confirm that Egypt was involved in mediation efforts but said no negotiations were taking place. "Quiet will be met with quiet. Should the fire not end, we’ll see further escalation," one official said.


Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai confirmed the armistice in an interview with Israel Radio, saying that while there was "an agreement in place, Israel will follow the situation on the ground."


Islamic Jihad Spokesman Daoud Shehab said Tuesday that his organization will respect the Egypt-brokered ceasefire if "Israel ends its aggression."


"We accept a ceasefire if Israel agrees to implement it by ending its attacks and assassinations," he said.


However, Islamic Jihad’s military wing Spokesman Abu Ahmed declared Monday that should Israel not halt its airstrikes, his group will expand its rocket range and target additional Israeli cities previously spared attacks.


"The ball is in Israel’s court," he said, adding that a truce would require the Jewish state to halt its aggression and pledge to refrain from assassinations of terrorists.


Senior Hamas figure Mahmoud al-Zahar estimated that a truce would be secured soon, noting that statements issued by Israel indicate that Jerusalem is not interested in exacerbating matters in Gaza.


Hamas also does not with to see further escalation and is making efforts to agree on a lull with Palestinian factions, he said.


Earlier, a Hamas parliament member said Egypt submitted a truce proposal that would see Cairo supplying fuel for Gaza’s power plant.


More than 40 rockets fired from the Gaza Strip exploded in Israel Monday, with the Iron Dome missile defense system intercepting 13 incoming projectiles. The Air Force staged more than 10 strikes in Gaza, killing at least two Islamic Jihad terrorists.


Reuters, Attila Somfalvi, Roi Kais and AFP contributed to the story



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פרסום ראשון: 03.13.12, 00:04
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