Israel officially confirmed on Wednesday that the Egyptian-brokered
cease-fire deal between the Israeli government and the Hamas would go into effect at 6 a.m. on Thursday. The period of calm is supposed to last six months. Officials on both sides were wary of the proposed deal but agreed to abide by it.
ZAA NKWETA (VOICEOVER), PRESENTER/PRODUCER: Israel officially confirmed on Wednesday that the Egyptian-brokered cease-fire deal between the Israeli government and the Palestinians would go into effect at 6 a.m. on Thursday. Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stressed that the cease-fire, which was only agreed to for a duration of six months, may only amount to a period of calm.
EHUD OLMERT, ISRAELI PRIME MINISTER (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): We have no illusions, what is called a calm. This calm is fragile and can be short-lived. Hamas and the other terror organizations operating on its behalf have not changed its spots and did not become peace seekers.
NKWETA: The ceasefire is meant to end a violent cycle of Palestinian rockets and Israeli air and land strikes that have intensified over the last year. Hamas confirmed its acceptance of the deal yesterday. Islamic Jihad did so today.
DAWUB SHIHAB, ISLAMIC JIHAD SPOKESMAN (SUBTITLED TRANSLATION): As long as Israel is committed to this period of calm then so will we. We will then keep an eye on Israel’s implementation of the terms of the calm. We will not be an obstacle in the way of implementing this deal for a calm, despite our reservations on many of the conditions included in the text of the deal.
NKWETA: Israel has agreed to ease the blockade of Gaza next week if the fighting stops on Thursday. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert stated that the release of abducted Israeli Corporal Gilad Shalit was an inseparable part of the deal. Israeli defense officials speaking under condition of anonymity stated that Israel would consider opening up the Rafah border, the main gateway into Egypt, as a final phase of the deal. Minutes after the fragile truce deal was confirmed, Palestinian fighters belonging to Islamic Jihad fired six rockets and mortars from the Gaza Strip into Israeli territory, and 40 Qassam rockets hit the western Negev. No one was injured.
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