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domingo, 30 de outubro de 2011

Ceasefire follows deadly Gaza exchanges

Egyptian-brokered truce agreed after Israeli strikes kill nine Palestinian fighters and rocket attacks kill one Israeli.
Last Modified: 30 Oct 2011 05:54

Israel and Palestinian fighters have agreed to a ceasefire after Israeli airstrikes killed nine Palestinian fighters and rocket fire killed one Israeli in the region's worst violence in since an Egypt-brokered truce came into effect in August.

The ceasefire, mediated by Egyptian officials, came into effect at 04:00 GMT on Sunday, said sources close to Hamas and Islamic Jihad.

"The efforts and intensive contacts led by senior Egyptian intelligence service officials led to a national consensus to restore calm" with Israel, a leader of one of the Palestinian groups, who asked to remain anonymous, told the AFP news agency.

Earlier, residents of Gaza reported hearing explosions in the area. Al Jazeera's sources said Israel had embarked on a new round of attacks on Islamic Jihad targets there, following deadly exchanges between the two sides on Saturday.

Gaza fighters 'killed'

Adham Abu Selmiya, a spokesman for Gaza's emergency services, said on Saturday that five members of the Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad's armed wing, were killed and three wounded in a first Israeli attack on a training camp near Rafah.

The dead included a commander named as Ahmed al-Sheikh Khalil, the group said.

As fighting continued into the night, Israeli aircraft struck more targets in Gaza, witnesses and Palestinian officials said, killing four more Palestinian fighters and wounding two more people.

At least two of those were killed as they tried to fire a Grad rocket into Israel, an Al-Quds spokesman said.

An Israeli strike east of Gaza City and two in the area of Khan Yunis, in the south, caused no casualties, witnesses said.

As rockets and mortar shells were fired into Israel, police raised a national alert to its second-highest level.

The Israeli military said the Rafah raid had "targeted a terrorist squad in the southern Gaza strip responsible for the firing of military-use projectiles towards the Israeli home front".

Rocket fire

Within hours of the attack, at least 20 Palestinian rockets and mortar bombs hit different sites in southern Israel, wounding three civilians, Israeli police said.

One rocket slammed into a community centre and another into a block of flats, setting parked cars and gas canisters alight.

Rockets hit the city of Ashdod, the nearby town of Gan Yavneh and the city of Ashkelon, to the south, police said.

The Al-Quds Brigades claimed responsibility for the rocket fire and posted a video on its website which it said showed the launching of five of the rockets.

The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine also claimed responsibility for the attacks.

And a spokesman for Hamas' Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades blamed Israel for the escalation.

"The occupation is completely responsible for the crime in Rafah and all of the resistance factions cannot leave the shedding of our martyrs' blood unanswered," Abu Obeida, Hamas spokesman, said. "We shall discuss the answer to this crime."

The air raid and earlier rocket attack were the first violent incidents since October 18 when Hamas repatriated Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier it seized in 2006, in exchange for the release of more than 1,000 jailed Palestinians .


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