Hamas ready for truce after Israel kills child
Published Thursday, June 21, 2012
Hamas said on Wednesday they were ready to sign up to an Egyptian-brokered truce after three days of Israeli airstrikes killed eight Palestinians, including a 14-year-old boy.
In a statement, the armed wing of Hamas said: "Responding to the Egyptian efforts, we and the armed resistance announce our commitment to stop this round of confrontation as long as the occupation stops this aggression."
Israel had no immediate comment. It customarily avoids responding whenever intermediaries reach an accord with Palestinian resistance groups as Israel refuses to recognize them citing the Islamists' refusal to acknowledge Israel's existence.
The Israeli military had earlier said in a statement it would "continue to operate with perseverance and determination against those who use terror against the State of Israel."
Israel has bombed several civilian targets in recent days, including two blacksmith workshops, drawing a rare response from Hamas, which fired dozens of rockets.
An Egyptian source had earlier told Reuters that efforts were afoot to try to achieve a ceasefire in fighting seen as risking a wider conflict at a time when Egypt faces political uncertainty after a contested presidential election.
Clashes erupted on Sunday evening when Israeli airstrikes wounded five Palestinians, including a woman and a child.
A Palestinian citizen of Israel was killed on Monday in a cross-border attack launched from Egypt's Sinai desert. Israel shot dead two of the attackers, then launched an assault on Gaza, killing eight, including Wednesday's victims.
A newly formed Islamist movement, the "Shura Council of Mujahideen in the Holy Land," claimed responsibility for Monday's raid from Egypt.
An Israeli raid on Wednesday killed a Palestinian operative while riding his motorcycle in Rafah, near Gaza's border with Egypt, medical officials said.
A second airstrike in Gaza City killed a 14-year-old boy and wounded his father, both civilians, the officials said.
Israel launched two more airstrikes in Gaza after darkness fell, lightly injuring two Palestinian boys aged 13 and 14, who sustained shrapnel wounds, medics said. Israel confirmed these attacks as well.
Palestinians fired more than 50 rockets into Israel on Wednesday in retaliation, damaging a home but causing no casualties, police and the Israeli army said.
Cairo has brokered Gaza truces in the past, but they sometimes take days to evolve. An Egyptian official said an agreement by Israel and Palestinian factions had earlier been secured to cease hostilities on Tuesday night but had collapsed after Israel renewed its assault.
(Al-Akhbar, Reuters, Ma'an)