Israel announces ceasefire

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert has announced during a press conference, that Israel will “unilaterally” ceasefire in their offensive in the Gaza Strip at 2:00 a.m. local time in Gaza.

statement-by-pm-ehud-olmertOlmert stated that he understands Hamas does not agree to he ceasefire. He also stated that in order for the Israeli to withdraw from Gaza, Hamas “must stop firing rockets” into Israel, but that excessive rocket fire would cause the Israel Defense Forces to “respond with force”.

“At two o’clock in the morning (0000 GMT) we will stop fire but we will continue to be deployed in Gaza and its surroundings. If our enemies decide to strike and want to carry on then the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force,” said Olmert during the press conference.

“The IDF and the Israel Security Agency have succeeded in conducting an outstanding operation, utilizing all the elements of Israel’s force – on land, at sea and in the air. The military operation was characterized by determination, sophistication, courage and an impressive ability in intelligence and operations, which led to significant and numerous achievements,” added Olmert.

Despite the ceasefire, Hamas continues to fire rockets into Israel. According to Press TV, at least 8 rockets have been fired overnight, the most ever fired into Israel at nighttime. This comes just four hours after Olmert said that “the factories in which its missiles were manufactured have been destroyed” along with “smuggling routes, through dozens of tunnels, have been bombed”.

Hamas issued a statement following the press conference saying the ceasefire is not enough and that their “resistance” will continue.

“The occupier must halt his fire immediately and withdraw from our land and lift his blockade and open all crossings and we will not accept any one Zionist soldier on our land, regardless of the price that it costs,” said Fawzi Barhoum, a Hamas spokesman.

Nearly 1,200 Palestinians have been killed as a result of the Israeli offensive into Gaza, and more than 400 of those killed have been children. Israel claims it began its offensive in order to stop rockets that Hamas was firing into Israel. The Israeli military says that at least 13 their soldiers have been killed in the fighting.

Operation in Gaza: Statement by PM Ehud Olmert

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