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18 Jan, 2009 15:30

Truce agreed in Gaza

Militants in Hamas-ruled Gaza have agreed to a week-long ceasefire with Israel. The announcement came on Sunday about 12 hours after Israel had declared its own unilateral ceasefire.

Hamas had continued to fight despite a unilateral ceasefire announced by Israel. Under the proposed ceasefire, which came into effect midnight GMT on Sunday, Israeli troops will suspend combat for 10 days, but still remain in Gaza.

Hamas' Syrian-based deputy leader, speaking for the militant Palestinian factions, said on Syrian television that the ceasefire will give Israel time to withdraw and open all the border crossings to allow humanitarian aid into Gaza.

Earlier, Israel said that five rockets had been fired from Gaza despite the Israeli ceasefire. In addition, there has been another armed clash in Northern Gaza, according to the Israeli military.

Hamas says that it will continue the war until Israeli troops are withdrawn from Gaza and does not accept Israel’s unilateral decision.

Hamas said the Israeli ceasefire undermines the negotiations going on in Egypt.

Hamas intends to continue negotiations and put forward its conditions: the ending of the Gaza occupation, a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops and opening the border crossings to allow humanitarian aid into the area.

Speaking after a Cabinet meeting to vote on the ceasefire deal proposed by Egypt, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert hailed the operation against Hamas, who, he says, will take years to recover.

On Saturday, the onslaught entered into its fourth week. Palestinian medics say 1,140 Palestinians have been killed, while the Israeli side claims thirteen Israelis have died.