Palestinian militants agree new ceasefire: Islamic Jihad



GAZA CITY, Philippe Agret - Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have agreed on a new ceasefire after days of deadly clashes with Israel, a senior official of the radical Islamic Jihad movement said Friday.
Nasiz Assam told AFP the truce would come into effect at midnight (2200 GMT) on Friday.
"Egyptian officials have made great efforts to restore the ceasefire" brokered by Cairo at the weekend following earlier clashes in the wake of an ambush in southern Israel, he said.



A spokesman for the Islamist Hamas government in Gaza confirmed the ceasefire accord, saying it followed contacts with the Egyptians and in the United Nations.
"The Hamas government calls on all factions of the Palestinian resistance to give the Israeli occupier a last chance to stop its aggression," Hamas official Salah al-Bardawil said in a statement.
He also said they should "prepare to choose the right moment to give the enemy a lesson."
The announcement of a new truce came after 11 Palestinians were killed in seven Israeli air strikes in less than 48 hours.
The spike in violence was kicked off by an air strike on the southern city of Rafah early Wednesday that killed Islamic Jihad militant Ismail al-Ismar, and provoked a flurry of retaliatory rocket attacks and counter-strikes.
The victims included two other Islamic Jihad activists.
Islamic Jihad said it would call off its rocket attacks if Israel first halted its air raids.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Dan Meridor said the Jewish state was ready to respect the tacit ceasefire as long as there was calm along the border with Gaza.
Robert Serry, the UN's Middle East envoy who had worked with Egypt to SET up Sunday's truce, expressed "deep concern" over the threat to the ceasefire and called on both sides to act immediately "to prevent any further escalation."
Ghazi Hamad, deputy foreign minister in the Hamas government, said it was trying "to keep the situation calm."
"We want a national consensus but some of the factions work alone. It is a big problem," he said.
Sunday's truce was declared after four days of bloodshed initially sparked by a coordinated shooting attack on a desert road near the Red Sea resort town of Eilat that killed eight Israelis.
Israel blamed Gaza's Popular Resistance Committees and began an air campaign to take out its leaders. That left 15 Palestinians dead, among them seven PRC militants and two Islamic Jihad operatives.
The PRC denied any responsibility for the Eilat attacks.
An Israeli security source meanwhile told AFP Thursday that militant groups were planning a number of attacks along the Israeli-Egyptian border in order to damage ties between the two countries.
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Friday, August 26th 2011
Philippe Agret
           


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