Gaza 'truce' takes hold overnight
Published Sunday 24/06/2012 (updated) 26/06/2012 11:26
Israeli soldiers walk in front of military vehicles just outside northern
Gaza. (MaanImages/Moamar Awad, File)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- A truce reportedly brokered by Egypt between Israel and Gaza militants seemed to have taken effect overnight Saturday, as airstrikes and rocket fire held off after a week of deadly fighting.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said no rockets fired from the Gaza Strip had landed in Israel overnight, nor had the army conducted military operations.
Hamas official Ayman Taha told Gaza-based news site Safa press on Saturday that an agreement to halt hostilities that evening had been reached following Egyptian mediation. The deal is based on "calm for calm," Taha said.
The Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority did not return calls seeking comment.
Ofer Gendelman, spokesman for the Israeli Prime Minister, declined to discuss any efforts made via Egypt to reach a truce, but insisted that Israel will continue military actions on the Gaza Strip as long as rockets are fired into Israel.
Speaking at the weekly cabinet meeting Sunday, Israeli premier Benjamin Netanyahu the army was "taking strong action against those who are attacking us and it will take even stronger action if need be."
"Our policy is to use force in order to restore security and quiet to the residents of the south," Netanyahu added.
Hamas' military wing the Al-Qassam Brigades also issued a statement Saturday vowing it would continue to strike back at Israel as long as military operations on the Gaza Strip continued.
While the Al-Qassam Brigades signed up to a truce mediated by Egypt on Wednesday night -- after Israeli airstrikes killed eight Palestinians in three days -- it quickly came unstuck as rockets and airstrikes continued.
Another five people have been killed in airstrikes since Friday, medical officials in Gaza say. Israel's military says it is targeting rocket-launchers and denied involvement in one of the deaths, of a 4-year-old boy on Saturday.
An Israeli military spokeswoman said 22 rockets fired from Gaza landed in south Israel on Saturday, wounding one Israeli man, but rocket fire abated in the evening.
Senior Fatah official Jamal Muheisen also said Saturday that West Bank authorities were in touch with Egypt and other nations to reach a truce between Israel and Gaza militants.