Masked Hamas terrorists 311 (R).
(photo credit: Mohammed Salem / Reuters)
A tense cease-fire between Israel and Hamas appeared to go into effect on Sunday
night as Israeli air strikes and Palestinian rocket attacks came to a near
standstill following three days of violence.
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But there was no official
confirmation by the sides regarding the acceptance of the ceasefire and rockets
continued to fall on Sderot and Ashkelon after 9 pm, when the cease fire was
reportedly supposed to go into effect.
Popular Resistance Committees
spokesmen told the reporters that the organization did not agree to the truce
and did not see itself as obligated to maintaining it.
According to Arab
reports, a senior Israeli Defense Ministry delegation had arrived earlier in the
day in Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials who mediated the cease-fire
between Israel and representatives of Islamic Jihad and Hamas.
officials said Israel was looking for a way to end the current round with Hamas,
citing the lack of international support as one of the reasons Israel could not
open a larger offensive against the Gaza Strip.
Minister Ehud Barak threatened Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist
organizations during a visit to an Iron Dome counter-rocket battery near
Ashkelon, saying that the violence could continue for several more
“The risk to someone who fires rockets at Israel that his head will
be separated from his body in an Israeli air strike is very high,” Barak said.
“Our attacks are extremely effective, accurate and will continue for as long as
Earlier in the day, the Israel Air Force bombed a Hamas
military outpost in response to the more than 150 rockets and mortar shell that
have struck Israel since Thursday, following the terrorist attacks near Eilat
that killed eight Israelis. The IAF also attacked a rocket cell near Beit Lahiya
in the northern Gaza Strip.
On Sunday, more than 30 rockets struck
Israel, including a Grad-model Katyusha that scored a direct hit on an empty
high school in Beersheba and caused extensive damage. The IDF said that a mortar
shell containing phosphorus was also fired into Israel near the Kerem Shalom
crossing, which continued to facilitate the transfer of goods and humanitarian
aid to the Gaza Strip.
Meanwhile, the IDF continued with its probe of
Thursday’s attacks near Eilat. Barak said he had confidence in the army’s
ability to probe itself and that he did not see a reason to appoint a special
panel to investigate the way the IDF prepared for the attack, which it had
received intelligence on several weeks earlier.
“In the IDF there is a
genuine culture of investigating oneself, even if the public doesn’t always know
about it,” he said. “I know the chief of General Staff, the head of the
[Southern] Command and the commander of the [Edom] Division, and they are all
officers who grew up in units where genuine and comprehensive investigations are
their bread and butter.”
Hamas said on Sunday that it would abide by a
cease-fire with Israel and urged all Palestinian groups to follow
“Hamas is keen on maintaining the period of calm that has prevailed
in the Gaza Strip in the past few months,” a Hamas official said. He stressed
that Hamas did not participate in the recent wave of rocket and missile attacks
Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday night phoned
the head of Egypt’s General Intelligence Force and urged him to intervene to
secure a cease-fire with Israel, the official said.
talks with representatives of various Palestinian groups, including Islamic
Jihad, the Egyptian authorities informed Hamas leaders that a cease-fire
agreement would go into effect later in the day.
However, the Popular
Resistance Committees, which lost several of its leaders to an Israeli air
strike in Rafah on Friday, said it would not abide by any cease-fire.
Mujahed, a spokesman for the group, said that the PRC would continue to defend
Palestinians against “Zionist aggression, arrogance and crimes.”
position is clear – we have nothing to do with a cease-fire with the enemy. The
enemy must bear the consequences of its crimes and we won’t stop the
resistance,” he said.