Report: Israel, Hamas agree to truce; Olmert: No such deal

Sunday, March 09, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

Israeli media noted a marked decrease in violence in and around the Hamas-ruled territory at the weekend, and Palestinian sources hinted that an informal ceasefire agreement had been reached between Israel and the Palestinian terrorists.

Palestinian terrorists operating out of Gaza fired only one rocket at southern Israel over the weekend, and Israeli forces halted all anti-terror activity in the area.

Palestinian sources cited by Israel's Ynet news portal said the cessation of hostilities was the result of ongoing negotiations between Israel and Hamas through Egyptian mediators.

Trying to avoid the suggestion that Israel is engaged in negotiations with the Hamas terror group, Prime Minister Ehud Olmert issued a statement rejecting reports that a ceasefire agreement had been struck between the two sides.

According to the statement, Israel's policy vis-a-vis the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip has "remained unchanged, as decided by the cabinet and as the prime minister said: 'If they don’t shoot, we won't shoot.' We do not wake up in the morning and think about ways to attack them."

Meanwhile, a senior Hamas official confirmed in an interview with London's Sunday Times that hundreds of his group's fighters and engineers have been sent for training in Syria and Iran since Israel pulled out of Gaza in 2005.

The official said the Hamas men receive advanced tactical and technological training from Syrian and Iranian security forces, as well as the Hizballah terrorist organization.

Israeli security officials have warned ever since the Gaza "disengagement" that leaving the Palestinians free to import Syrian and Iranian military know-how would transform Hamas into a full-fledged terrorist army.

In related news, an Israeli soldier seriously wounded when Palestinian terrorists destroyed his patrol jeep along the Gaza security fence last week succumbed to his injuries on Sunday.

Staff Sergeant Liran Banai lost both of his legs when terrorists detonated a roadside bomb planted along the Gaza security fence last Thursday. Another soldier was killed at the scene of the attack and two more were lightly wounded.

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