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News, March 2008


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Editorial Note: The following news reports are summaries from original sources. They may also include corrections of Arabic names and political terminology. Comments are in parentheses.


Israeli military officials: Targeting of Gaza will stop if homemade shells stop

Monday March 10, 2008 16:44 by Ghassan Bannoura - IMEMC News

Israeli media sources reported on Monday that the Israeli occupation government has instructed the army to stop attacking the Gaza Strip if the Palestinian resistance do not shoot homemade shells from the strip toward nearby Israeli towns.

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak, however, stated on Monday that the army will attack Gaza "at any time needed".

Ehud Olmert, Israeli Prime Minister, told reporters that no 'truce' had been reached with Hamas, and that there have not been any direct or indirect talks about such an issue. His statement came after meeting the Czech Prime Minister on Monday at midday.

According to Israeli occupation government sources, the new orders to the army come as part of Egyptian efforts to mediate a truce between the Hamas movement and Israel. The Hamas movement has controlled the Palestinian coastal region since emerging from a bitter power struggle with rival the Fatah movement in June 2007.

Last week, the Israeli occupation army attacked Gaza and conducted a three day ground offensive. By the end of the week, the death toll in Gaza had reached 125, of whom 95 were civilians. The Israeli military stated that the operations were to stop the launching of homemade from Gaza into Israeli areas. Palestinian homemade shells have killed 13 Israelis since 2001.

Egyptian Intelligence Chief, Omer Sulaiman, reportedly told Israeli officials in Cairo on Sunday that, in order to start talks of a possible truce with Hamas, both the Israeli army and Palestinian resistance should ease the situation and stop attacks.

Fawzi Barhum, Hamas spokesman, told IMEMC that the Palestinian attacks on Israel "is a natural response to the Israeli occupation army attacks and killing of Palestinians living in Gaza". Barhum stated, "the resistance shoot homemade shells at Israel when the Israeli army attacks, kills and continues to impose a siege on the Gaza residents"

Sulaiman told Egyptian media on Monday that a Hamas delegation was expected to arrive in Cairo to discuss a possible calming of tensions with Israel. Barhum stated that Hamas "continue to meet with Egyptian officials, since there are a lot of issues to be discussed, such as the borders and the stranded Palestinians from Gaza in Egypt."

'New rules of the game' put restraint on Israeli army actions against Gaza

Monday March 10, 2008 10:50 by Rami Almeghari - IMEMC & Agencies

Israeli media reports said Monday that 'new rules of the game', have put restraint on Israeli army actions against the Gaza Strip, however, there has been no agreement with the ruling Hamas over there.

A senior government official, speaking in a condition of anonymity, was reported as saying that the Israeli occupation army has been ordered not to engage in attacks against the coastal enclave, unless Palestinians fire homemade shells onto adjacent Israeli areas.

The new order was released following the last week's Israeli deadly attacks on northern Gaza Strip, which claimed the lives of more than 100 Palestinians, many of them were civilians, the Israeli official explained.

Last week, Israeli prime minister, Ehud Olmert, told his guest U.S Secretary of States, Condoleezza Rice, that Israel 'will not attack Gaza, if homemade shells are not fired onto Israel.

Rice urged Cairo to hold more contacts with the ruling Hamas in order to ensure a lull in tension in the region to help advance Palestinian-Israeli peace talks.

Over the past few days, media reports suggested that only three Qassam homemade shells have been fired onto Israel, compared with last week's dozens of such shells, Palestinians fired as Israeli army was attacking Gaza's northern parts.

Last month, Hamas expressed readiness to reach a ceasefire (truce) deal with Israel, via a third party, on which Hamas prevents Palestinians from firing homemade shells in return for halt of Israeli army actions on Gaza and West Bank and lift of a nine-month-old Israeli closure of the coastal territory.

Nasr: No calm reached with Israel

[ 10/03/2008 - 10:59 AM ]


Mohamed Nasr, a member of the Hamas political bureau, categorically denied that his Movement had reached an agreement on a truce with the Israeli occupation through Egypt, adding that there would be no calm of any kind with Israel unless it was comprehensive, reciprocal and simultaneous.

Nasr underlined that  Egypt are making efforts to reach a truce formula that takes into account the demands of both parties, but these efforts are obstructed by Israel, pointing out that Egypt had been able to achieve a calm in 2005, but Israel did not respect this calm and continued its aggression since then.

The Hamas leader renewed Hamas's refusal to return to the 2005 agreement concerning the management of crossings which was signed by Muhammed Dahlan because it turns Gaza into a big prison and the Rafah crossing into a gate of this prison locked and opened at will by Israel; besides, the agreement is no longer legally valid.

The Hamas leader doubted Israel's seriousness to reach calm with the Palestinians because Israel does not want the Palestinian people to sign an agreement with it as its equals, but it always wants them to be in a weak position.

In the same context, Suleiman Awwad, the spokesman for the Egyptian presidency, stated on Sunday that Amos Gilad, the delegate of Israeli war ministry, visited Egypt to listen to its assessment of the truce issue and the results of contacts with Hamas in this regard.

Awwad told the Egyptian Middle East News Agency that the Gilad's visit came within the framework of the efforts exerted by Egypt to reach a truce between the Palestinians and the Israelis, to lift the siege and alleviate the Palestinian people's suffering especially in Gaza.

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