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Israel declares ceasefire in Gaza

Posted by gaetanoditommaso su 17 gennaio, 2009

BBC NEWS

17 January 2009

Israel is to halt its three-week military offensive against Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said.

He said Israel had achieved its aims and the unilateral ceasefire would start at 0200 (2400 GMT). But he said troops would remain in Gaza for now.

A Hamas spokesman said it would not accept one Israeli soldier in Gaza.

Nearly 1,200 Palestinians have been killed since the violence began on 27 December. Thirteen Israelis have died.

Minutes before Mr Olmert was due to speak, a rocket was fired from Gaza, a BBC producer in Gaza said.

‘Goals achieved’

The Israeli prime minister’s announcement came in a televised address following a late-night cabinet meeting.

Israel’s “goals have been achieved, and even more”, Mr Olmert said, with Hamas badly damaged both militarily and in terms of infrastructure.

But the success of the ceasefire depended on Hamas, he said.

Troops would remain in Gaza for the time being and if militant rocket fire into Israel continued, Israel would respond with force, he said.

A Hamas spokesman, Fawzi Barhum, said the group could not “accept the presence of a single [Israeli] soldier in Gaza”.

Israel must withdraw completely, lift its economic blockade of Gaza and open border crossings, he said.

Hamas representatives have been taking part in talks in Cairo, brokered by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, aimed at reaching a bilateral truce.

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/middle_east/7835794.stm

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