Israel declares ceasefire in Gaza (Lead, Changing dateline)

January 18th, 2009 - 5:25 am ICT by IANS  

Tel Aviv, Jan 18 (DPA) Israel will halt its military offensive in the Gaza Strip at 00:00 GMT Sunday (2 a.m. local time), Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced Saturday night.He said however that Israeli troops will remain in the Gaza Strip for the time being and would only leave once Israel was satisfied Hamas fire had ceased completely.

“With the sum of our accomplishments in the operation and achieving our objectives, the cabinet has decided to accept my proposal and to declare a ceasefire,” Olmert told a news conference, held immediately after the inner, or security, cabinet met in Tel Aviv.

“If our enemies decide that the blows that they received weren’t enough and they are interested in continuing the fighting, Israel will be prepared for that and will feel free to continue and react with force,” he added.

Israel media reported that two ministers voted against the ceasefire proposal, and one abstained.

Israel launched its Operation Cast Lead against Hamas in the Gaza Strip three weeks ago, following sustained rocket fire from the salient on southern Israeli towns and villages.

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