Missile hits Ashkelon as Hamas reports truce near

Monday, June 16, 2008 |  by Staff Writer

A missile fired by Palestinian terrorists hit the southern Israel coastal city of Ashkelon on Monday afternoon moderately injuring a woman and sending numerous other people into shock. Despite the ongoing attacks on southern Israel, the Hamas rulers of the nearby Gaza Strip announced that an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between the terror group and Israel was closer than ever.

Speaking to reporters in Gaza City, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the "Egyptian-mediated talks with Israel are nearing a successful end."

Haniyeh indicated that Israel was close to accepting Hamas' demands that the truce also include a cessation of Israeli anti-terror measures in Judea and Samaria, and that Israel lift its blockade of Gaza.

Other media reports suggested Hamas would not be reciprocating by meeting Israel's demands that it guarantee a halt to arms smuggling from the Egyptian Sinai into Gaza and that it free abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.

Israeli defense experts have called the decision by the government of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to pursue a ceasefire with Hamas a major mistake, noting that based on past experience Hamas and its allied terror groups will use the period of calm to regroup and rearm all but ensuring even greater violence in the near future.

Army officials have been recommending for months that Olmert green light a major military incursion into Gaza to deal with the rocket threat and set back Hamas' military buildup. But Olmert is said to be wary of going to war with Hamas after his leadership failures during the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

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