Israeli PM announces unilateral ceasefire in Gaza
www.chinaview.cn 2009-01-18 05:32:44   Print

Special report: Palestine-Israel Conflicts

°§Israeli unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip will begin from 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) Sunday.
°§Olmert said that the goals of the operation in Gaza had been "met in full.".
°§The decision means Israel has put an end to the operation without an agreement with Hamas.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks at a press conference after security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, on Jan. 17, 2008. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Saturday evening declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, beginning from 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) Sunday. The declaration came shortly after Israeli security cabinet voted in favor of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Cast Lead Operation had been going on in the past three weeks, killing more than 1,200 Palestinians.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert speaks at a press conference after security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, on Jan. 17, 2008. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Saturday evening declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, beginning from 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) Sunday. The declaration came shortly after Israeli security cabinet voted in favor of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Cast Lead Operation had been going on in the past three weeks, killing more than 1,200 Palestinians.  (Xinhua Photo)
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    JERUSALEM, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert Saturday evening announced a unilateral ceasefire in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip, beginning from 2 a.m. (0000 GMT) Sunday.

    The announcement came shortly after Israeli security cabinet voted in favor of a unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, where Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Cast Lead Operation had been going on in the past three weeks.

    The decision means Israel has put an end to the operation without an agreement with Hamas, relying instead on the support of the United States and Egypt in battling weapons smuggling into Gaza, said local daily Ha'aretz.

    At a press conference in Tel Aviv, Olmert said that the goals of the operation in Gaza had been "met in full."

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) shakes hands with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a press conference after security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, on Jan. 17, 2008.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert (R) shakes hands with Defense Minister Ehud Barak at a press conference after security cabinet meeting in Tel Aviv, on Jan. 17, 2008.   (Xinhua Photo)
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    The Jewish state has repeatedly said that the goals of the operation are to deal Hamas a harsh blow, force the militant group to put an end to anti-Israel activity and stop weapon smuggling from Egypt to Gaza through tunnels.

    "We have reached all of our objectives in Gaza," said Olmert, adding that Hamas has been dealt a heavy blow by IDF, and Hamas leaders are now in hiding.

    Most rocket launching areas in Gaza are now controlled by the IDF, said the prime minister, adding "No doubt that without Cast Lead Operation, we would not have reached our goals."

    "We reached agreements with Egypt on fighting arms smuggling," he added.

    Olmert said that if Hamas entirely ends its rocket attacks on Israel will consider the withdrawal of IDF from Gaza. But he did not say the exact time for the possible withdrawal.

    However, if Hamas continues to fire on southern Israel, the IDF will continue to operate in order to protect Israeli citizens, the prime minister said.

    "If Hamas returns to their unruly attacks, they will be surprised again by the hand of Israel -- I don't advise them to try it," he warned.

    Hamas had underestimated Israel's decisiveness, and was still not fully aware of how badly it had been damaged, said Olmert, noting that "Our fight is not with the people of Gaza."

    Nevertheless, Hamas leaders have repeated that the militant group will not respect any ceasefire as long as Israeli troops remain inside the Palestinian coastal enclave.

    Shortly after Olmert's announcement, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak warned that the IDF will stay in Gaza and restart the military operation if necessary.

    "We will stop the fire but there is no guarantee that Hamas will do the same. The army will stay as needed and if Hamas continues to fire, the army will fire back severely and will be ready to follow and intensify its operations as necessary," said Barak.

    Earlier on Saturday, the defense minister said during a visit to IDF paratroopers that the IDF is nearing the goals set for its operation in Gaza, which serves as a strong hint at the unilateral ceasefire announcement made by Olmert.

    "After three weeks of Operation Cast Lead, we are very close to securing the operation's objectives and complementing them with diplomatic agreements," said Barak.

    However, the troops must "continue their operational activity and be ready for any possible development," said the defense minister.

    Minutes after Olmert declared the unilateral ceasefire in Gaza, Islamic Hamas movement's armed wing al-Qassam Brigades sent a statement to reporters, saying they will "continue resistance as long as the occupation of Gaza continues and the blockade is imposed."

    Meanwhile, Muin Nasri, a Palestinian doctor working in Gaza, told Xinhua on the phone that "I hope there is a Hamas ceasefire after Israel's declaration, but if Israel does not withdraw its troops from Gaza in one or two days, the ceasefire will collapse."

    Caoimhe Butterly, an Irish human rights activist working in Jabalia and Gaza City as a volunteer with ambulance services, said "Israel should stop killing innocent people and a complete withdrawal of Israeli troops is necessary for Hamas to stop fire."

    The Cast Lead Operation, which began on Dec. 27, entered its 22nd day on Saturday, killing more than 1,200 Palestinians. On the Israeli side, 13 people were killed since the operation, including four killed by rockets from Gaza. The other nine were soldiers killed in Gaza ground battle.

 

UN chief urges Hamas to stop firing rockets after Israel announces unilateral ceasefire

    BEIRUT, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon Saturday urged Hamas to stop firing rockets after Israel announced unilateral ceasefire.

    He said that Israel's ceasefire "should be the first step leading to the full withdrawal of Israeli troops from Gaza," adding that he wanted the withdrawal "as soon as possible".  Full story

UN General Assembly sends strong message for early end to Gaza conflict

    UNITED NATIONS, Jan. 16 (Xinhua) -- The UN General Assembly (GA)Friday concluded a two-day emergency special session by sending a strong message to the world demanding an immediate end to the Gaza conflict, which raged on for three weeks and left more than 1,000 Palestinians killed despite a new Security Council resolution calling for an immediate, durable and fully respected ceasefire.

    A GA resolution adopted at the end of the meeting demands full respect for the Security Council resolution, known as the resolution 1860, and calls upon all parties, including the 15-member Security Council, to "use all means at their disposal to ensure full and urgent compliance with the resolution."

Medical sources: Death toll in Gaza exceeds 1200 

    GAZA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein said Saturday that the death toll since the beginning of the Israeli offensive on Gaza on Dec. 27, 2008 has reached 1203 Palestinians.

    In a statement, Hassanein noted that more than 5300 Palestinians were also wounded during the past 22 days of Israeli military offensive.

Gaza militant groups continue attacking Israel 

    GAZA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- Several Palestinian militant groups claimed responsibility on Saturday for carrying out a series of armed attacks against the Israeli army and firing rockets at southern Israeli towns.

    Al-Qassam Brigades, Islamic Hamas movement's armed wing claimed responsibility for launching two Russian-made Grad rockets from Gaza at the southern Israeli towns of Efokim and Netivot.

Israeli tanks shell UN-run school in Gaza, kills at least 4 

    GAZA, Jan. 17 (Xinhua) -- At least four Palestinians were killed when Israeli tanks shelled a UN-run school in Beit Lahya in northern Gaza Strip on Saturday morning, local medical sources and witnesses said.

    Gaza emergency chief Mo'aweya Hassanein said that the tank shelling killed at least four and wounded ten, adding that three people were killed in northern Gaza City in an air strike this morning.

Editor: Wang Guanqun
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