Israeli and Hamas leaders on Monday rejected reports a day earlier that the severe decrease in violence in and around the Gaza Strip this week was the result of an Egyptian mediated ceasefire agreement.
Speaking at an army recruitment base in the center of Israel, Defense Minister Ehud Barak stressed that Israel had yet to achieve its military goals in Gaza - namely the elimination of the Hamas rocket threat and a halt to arms smuggling along the border with Egypt - and that military operations in Gaza were set to continue.
However, Israeli army officials did tell Ynet that the government had ordered them to scale back their war on the Gaza terrorist infrastructure so long as Hamas and its allied terror groups were not pelting southern Israel with rockets and Iranian-supplied missiles. The officials said that limited strikes on Palestinian rocket cells continue.
Israeli military sources told Israel National News that the reduction in IDF counter-terror measures was the direct result of pressure from the Bush Administration, which is anxious to see Israeli-Palestinian negotiations resume.
Hamas spokesmen, meanwhile, were adamant that the group's decision to stop firing rockets at southern Israel at present was a tactical decision, and not the result of a ceasefire deal with Israel.
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