Ceasefire between Israel and Hamas in effect

June 19th, 2008 - 10:40 am ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv/Gaza, June 19 (DPA) The ceasefire agreement between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip went into effect at 6 a.m. Thursday. Since midnight the militant Palestinians have stopped their bombardment of Israel, said an army spokesman Thursday morning in Tel Aviv. However, earlier Wednesday, about 30 Qassam rockets were fired from the Strip at communities along the Israeli border, lightly injuring one woman.

The cessation of hostilities comes after months of difficult, Egyptian-led indirect negotiations and deadly violence and is to be be valid for six months.

The first phase of the truce involves a mutual end of hostilities.

The second phase will begin after the sides achieve progress on new talks on the release of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was taken hostage by Hamas militants during a cross border raid on Karem Shalom crossing in the Gaza Strip June 25, 2006.

As part of that phase, Israel is to increase the number of goods allowed into Gaza and Egypt will reopen its border crossing of Rafah with the Strip for an initial one or two days a week, London’s Arabic a-Sharq al-Awsat reported, quoting Egyptian officials.

Just hours before the start of the truce, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert played down expectations and warned that the Israeli army continued its preparations for a large-scale offensive, should the ceasefire fail.

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