Egypt: Israel has accepted Gaza cease-fire

MENA: Egyptian intel chief relayed news of agreement to Hamas; Israeli officials won't confirm report.

kassam victim 224.88 (photo credit: )
kassam victim 224.88
(photo credit: )
A senior Egyptian official said on Tuesday night that Israel had accepted in principle a proposal for a truce in the Gaza Strip, according to the official MENA news agency. "Israeli leaders [have informed us] of their support for and understanding of the Egyptian proposals for a truce," the news agency quoted the unidentified official as saying. It added that Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman had relayed the news to a Hamas delegation from Gaza earlier in the day. Israeli officials declined to confirm the report. "As far as we are concerned, we can only indicate that contacts are continuing," said Mark Regev, spokesman for Prime Minister Ehud Olmert. Meanwhile, kidnapped IDF soldier Cpl. Gilad Schalit's father, Noam, told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday that Olmert had personally promised in a telephone conversation that his son would be included in any agreement or arrangement reached with Hamas. But the call, he said, took place last week. "We are still waiting," he said. In his talks with Suleiman and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak over a Gaza cease-fire proposal on Monday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said Israel was prepared to accept a cease-fire that included expediting the negotiations for Schalit's release. According to the Israeli proposal, the first stage would include a cessation of hostilities, and then a lifting of the siege on Gaza - by opening the crossings - in exchange for advancement in efforts to free Schalit. Defense officials said Barak also asked that Schalit be transferred to Egypt for safekeeping until the completion of the negotiations. Defense officials said that if Hamas accepted Israel's two-stage cease-fire proposal, a truce in Gaza would go into effect before the end of the week. In Gaza on Tuesday, two people were killed in separate IAF strikes. In the first attack, the army said, aircraft fired at a group of Palestinians firing rockets in the northeast Gaza Strip. Palestinian doctors said a boy, 13, was killed and another youth was seriously wounded. In the second strike, aircraft fired at Palestinians who were placing bombs along the security fence in central Gaza, the army said. Palestinian doctors said one man, 32, was killed. His identity was not immediately known. Earlier in the day, two Kassam rockets were fired into Israel. On Monday night, a 20-year-old Palestinian terrorist wearing an explosive belt was killed by soldiers at the Hawara checkpoint south of Nablus, the IDF said. The army said soldiers manning the roadblock Cpl. Michal Ya'akov had become suspicious when the man approached the checkpoint and set off the metal detector. The soldiers then ordered the man to keep still. However, when the man slowly moved his hands in the direction of an explosive belt, the troops shot him, the army said.