Posted by: Lister | March 12, 2008

Ceasefire talks official?

YNET says An Israeli security offical confirms agreement:

Despite earlier denials by top officials in Jerusalem, a senior defense official has confirmed Tuesday that an agreement on a lull in Gaza Strip fighting has been worked out.

In a conversation with French news agency AFP, the security official said that an agreement that would see an end to Israeli military operations in the Strip in exchange for an end to rocket attacks on Israel has been finalized via Egyptian mediation efforts.

With a related news story (March 9th) Ceasefire in south already in effect:

Gaza sources claim Israel, armed Palestinian factions reach understanding on ceasefire in area, effective as of this weekend. Only one rocket fired at Negev in last two days, no IDF strikes registered in Strip. PMO denies any deal reached with Hamas

AFP reports Israeli undercover forces kill 4 militants in West Bank:

Israeli undercover forces killed four Palestinian militants, including two high-ranking commanders, in a raid in the West Bank town of Bethlehem on Wednesday.

The strike raised tensions after a five-day lull in violence between Israel and Palestinian militants in and around the Gaza Strip as Egypt was attempting to broker a more permanent truce between the two sides.

“Islamic Jihad and the other resistance groups have the right to respond in any place to this crime of assassination and all options are open,” Dawud Shihab, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad in Gaza, told AFP.

“What the enemy has done undermines any talk of a ceasefire,” he said.

[…] after the Bethlehem ambush, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said the “assassination of this group of four is a crime and a dangerous escalation.”

“There is no meaning to any ceasefire in the midst of these crimes,” he told AFP. “Hamas confirms that any ceasefire must be comprehensive, in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip… This crime demands a response from the resistance.”

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Responses

  1. Uri Avnery says that Israel endangered the ceasefire to avenge acts taken years ago:

    On the near horizon, a de facto suspension of hostilities was taking shape. The Egyptians had made great efforts to turn it into an official cease-fire. The flame was already burning visibly lower.

    […] And then something happened that turned the flame up high again: undercover soldiers of the Israeli army killed four Palestinians militants in Bethlehem. A fifth was killed in a village near Tulkarm.

    […] This time no effort was even made to pretend that the four were about to carry out a murderous attack. It was not claimed, for example, that they had anything to do with last week’s attack on the Mercaz Harav seminary, the flagship of the settlers’ fleet. Actually, no such pretense could be put forward, because the most important of the four had recently given interviews to the Israeli media and announced that he was availing himself of the Israeli “pardon scheme” – a Shin Bet program under which “wanted” militants give up their arms and undertake to cease resistance to the occupation. He was also a candidate in the last Palestinian elections.

    If so, why where they killed? The Shin Bet did not hide the reason: two of the four had participated in attacks in 2001 in which Israelis were killed.

    “Our long arm will get them even years later,” Ehud Barak boasted on TV, “we shall get everyone with Jewish blood on his hands.”

    SIMPLY PUT: The Defense Minister and his men endangered today’s cease-fire in order to avenge something that happened seven years ago.

    It was obvious to all that the killing of Islamic Jihad militants in Bethlehem would cause the renewal of the Qassam launchings on Sderot. And so it happened.

    The effect of a Qassam rocket is completely unpredictable. For the residents of Sderot, this is a kind of Israeli Roulette – the rocket may fall in an empty field, it may fall on a building, sometimes it kills people.

    In other words, according to Barak himself, he was ready to risk Jewish lives today in order to take revenge on persons who may perhaps have shed blood years ago and have since given up their armed activity.

    Or perhaps to scupper the ceasefire. But if that were all, then surely they could have found a more up to date target.


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