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Gaza ceasefire agreement holds overnight

Twelve rockets were fired from the Gaza Strip overnight but the Israelis did not retaliate and the ceasefire remains in place this morning.

Israelis stand on a hill at the Israeli town of Sderot, background, in southern Israel, overlooking the Gaza Strip last night.
Israelis stand on a hill at the Israeli town of Sderot, background, in southern Israel, overlooking the Gaza Strip last night.
Image: Lefteris Pitarakis/AP/Press Association Images

A CEASEFIRE TOOK hold in and around Gaza overnight after a week of cross-border violence between Israel and Palestinian militants that killed at least 160 people.

Twelve rockets fired from the Gaza Strip hit Israel last night in the hours that followed the ceasefire agreement, a police spokesman told AFP.

The attacks caused no injuries or damage, with the rockets mostly landing in open fields in the south of the Jewish state.

The Israeli Defence Forces did not appear to respond.

Foreign Minister Mohammed Kamel Amr of Egypt, which brokered the ceasefire after marathon talks, announced the cessation of hostilities at a joint news conference in Cairo with US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton yesterday.

The UN Security Council urged Israel and Hamas to uphold the ceasefire while joining with US President Barack Obama in praising Egypt’s President Mohamed Morsi for mediating an end to the violence.

The accord, a copy of which was obtained by AFP, calls on Israel to “stop all hostilities… in the land, sea and air including incursions and targeting of individuals” and urges the Palestinian factions to end “rocket attacks and all attacks along the border”.

‘Critical’

Israel would be obliged to ease restrictions on Gaza residents under the accord which specified that “procedures of implementation shall be dealt with” 24 hours after the ceasefire went into effect on opening Gaza’s border crossings and allowing the free movement of people and goods.

“This is a critical moment for the region,” Clinton said. “In the days ahead, the United States will work with partners in the region to consolidate this progress.”

After a day of violence that killed another 18 Palestinians, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office said he was prepared to give peace a chance.

“Netanyahu spoke with President Barack Obama and agreed to his recommendation to give a chance to an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire and thereby give an opportunity for the stabilisation of the situation and a calming of it,” said a statement.

Israel launched its offensive on November 14 with the targeted killing of a Hamas military chief. It has since hit more than 1,500 targets.

Gaza militants fired more than 1,500 rockets back at Israel, whose vaunted Iron Dome anti-missile system intercepted more than 420 of them.

At least 155 Palestinians have been killed in the conflict, and five Israelis have died.

The conflict came as Israel heads towards a general election in January, and raised the spectre of a broader military campaign along the lines of the Jewish state’s devastating 22-day operation launched at the end of December 2008.

- AFP, 2012

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