Hamas confirms Gaza truce deal (Lead)

June 18th, 2008 - 1:35 am ICT by IANS  

Gaza City, June 17 (DPA) The radical Islamic Hamas movement confirmed Tuesday that it had reached a truce agreement with Israel. The confirmation came after Egypt’s official MENA news agency announced that after months of indirect negotiations led by Egypt, the Palestinian militant groups and Israel agreed on the Gaza truce that would take effect Thursday morning.

Hamas will be committed the date or any date that has been announced by Egypt, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum told DPA.

He said Hamas would issue a formal announcement later.

Meanwhile, Israel did not confirm or deny the reports of truce agreed by both the sides.

A government spokesman in Jerusalem said, without commenting on the reported truce, that Israel was “still interested” in achieving a truce.

In a statement, Israel’s defence ministry said a senior defence official involved in the indirect truce negotiations, Amos Gilad, would travel to Egypt Tuesday night for unexpected talks with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman.

“The cabinet last Thursday gave preference to the Egyptian track to try and achieve calm in the south of Israel,” an Israeli government spokeswoman said.

“If all actions are stopped from Gaza towards Israel - the rockets, the strengthening and rearming of Hamas in Gaza - and if we see, and we would like to see, movement regarding (Israeli Corporal) Gilad Shalit, then it could be serious,” she said.

“Actions are needed and not words,” she added. The spokesperson was referring to an Israeli soldier held captive in Gaza for the past two years. Israel initially said his immediate release was a condition for a truce, but now demands “progress” in the indirect negotiations on his release.

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