26 November 2006

Rockets or the West Bank

An update on the "ceasefire" in Gaza, it seems that Islamic Jihad won't agree to it unless Israelis leave (the whole of) the West Bank as reported by Reuters:

'GAZA (Reuters) - A ceasefire between Israel and militants in Gaza went into effect on Sunday and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, promising restraint after early Palestinian violations, said the truce could help revive peacemaking.

The agreement is designed to end rocket attacks and halt a crushing Israeli army offensive that was launched after gunmen seized a soldier in a cross-border raid last June. Olmert said he hoped the soldier would now be freed.

"All of these things ultimately could lead to one thing -- the opening of serious, real, open and direct negotiations between us," Olmert said. "So that we can move forward towards a comprehensive agreement between us and the Palestinians."

Palestinian militants fired several rockets at Israel just hours after the start of the ceasefire.

"We will show the necessary restraint and patience, certainly in the coming days," Olmert said during a visit to southern Israel.

The Israeli army pulled forces out of Gaza overnight, before the ceasefire took effect. Palestinian witnesses confirmed that soldiers had left northern Gaza, where operations against rocket-launching squads had been focused.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas condemned the violations of the truce and the official Palestinian news agency, WAFA, said he had instructed the heads of security forces to ensure the truce held. It gave no details of how they would do so.

Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for launching at least five rockets into southern Israel and said it would not agree to a ceasefire unless Israeli military activity also ended in the occupied West Bank. No one was hurt in the attacks.

The armed wing of the governing Hamas Islamic group said it fired two rockets, but Hamas political leaders pledged to obey the ceasefire. Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, part of Abbas's Fatah movement, also said they launched two rockets.

Palestinian cabinet spokesman Ghazi Hamad said the government would speak to the factions which violated the truce. "We are committed to the agreement on calm," Hamad said. '

Update 1: Israel's CH2 TV News reports that 10 Qassam rockets have been fired into Israel since the start of the 'ceasefire'.

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