Informal truce eases violence between Israel, Gaza militants

Israeli-soldier
REPORTING FROM JERUSALEM -- Amid an informal cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt, violence between Israel and Gaza Strip-based militants dropped Tuesday with only a handful of rocket and mortar attacks and no reports of damage or injury.

Details of the agreement remained murky, but both Israeli officials and representatives of Hamas, which controls Gaza, expressed hope that the recent round of fighting would end.

Twenty-five Palestinians, including five civilians, had been killed since violence began Friday. At least six Israeli civilians were wounded.

It remained to be seen whether Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees, the two Gaza groups responsible for most of the rocket fire, would honor the agreement. They were said to be seeking assurances that Israel would pledge not to kill any more of its leaders.

The targeted killing Friday of a top Popular Resistance Committee commander sparked the latest fighting.

Israel has said publicly that it will do what it believes is necessary to protect its citizens.

“There is no agreement between us and Hamas,” said Amos Gilad, director of policy at Israel’s Defense Ministry.  “Neither is there a document nor understanding. Only with Egypt we have agreed to a ‘quietness.’ ... Egypt deserves credit.”

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-- Edmund Sanders

Photo: An Israeli soldier on Tuesday sits next to machine guns where troops have been deployed along Israel's southern border with the Gaza Strip. Egypt has brokered an informal cease-fire agreement between Israel and Palestinian militants who have exchanged rocket fire and airstrikes in recent days. Credit: Menahem Kahana / Agence France-Presse / Getty Images.

 
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