An Egyptian-brokered truce between Israel and Gaza began Thursday, but with an Israeli missile strike killing one Palestinian barely an hour before the ceasefire came into effect, there was little hope the peace would hold.
A truce between Hamas and Israel came into effect Thursday morning. Under the terms of the Egypt-brokered deal, Palestinians pledged to halt rocket attacks on Israeli territory in return for an end to Israeli strikes in the Gaza Strip.
Israel also agreed to ease the crippling blockade on Gaza that was imposed shortly after Hamas seized control of Gaza in June 2007.
“Hamas is determined to respect the agreement and guarantee its success,” said Sami Abou Zouhri, a Hamas spokesman, in a written statement Thursday.
While announcing the start of the truce, Israeli state radio said, “The army has made the necessary arrangements, though it has not received precise orders concerning the steps to be taken in the event of a violation of the truce.”
“The next few days will be crucial,” said Marc de Chalvron, FRANCE 24’s correspondent in Jerusalem. “Both parties will be monitoring the slightest infringement to the terms of the truce. If these are not respected, Israel will not reopen the Gaza checkpoints.”
Fighting shortly before the truce
On Wednesday, an Israeli missile killed one Palestinian in southern Gaza, while dozens of rockets and mortars landed in Israeli territory. There were no reported casualties.
In statements released the same day, Israeli and Palestinian leaders issued both conciliatory and defiant tones. "What they are calling an ‘appeasement' is fragile and likely to be short-lived," said Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.
For the Izz El-Deen al-Qassam Brigade, Hamas’s armed wing, the ceasefire is "in no way a free gift" to Israel. Still, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said he was confident all factions would respect Thursday's deal out of a sense of "national responsibility."
Date created : 2008-06-20