Gaza truce holding, but Hamas rearming

Sunday, June 22, 2008 |  Israel Today Staff

A tenuous ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip was holding on Sunday, three full days after officially going into effect.

The longevity of the truce had already surprised many, who expected Gaza-based Palestinian forces to resume sporadic rocket and mortar shell attacks on southern Israel almost immediately, as they had done during previous ceasefires.

But while there was an absence of direct violence, Hamas admitted that it was not abiding by Israel's ceasefire condition that it stop bringing more explosives and weapons into Gaza.

"They said that Hamas should stop what they called smuggling through borders, by land or sea... We did not respond to these demands, because they are unfair and beyond our philosophy and capabilities, and issues which we cannot commit to," said Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh during a speech at a Gaza City mosque on Friday.

While Hamas refuses to take Israel's conditions seriously, Haniyeh insisted that the group expects the Jewish state to honor its commitment to fully lift its blockade of the Gaza Strip after 10 days of non-violence.

In remarks to Israel's Ynet news portal on Sunday, Israeli Justice Minister Daniel Friedman called the ceasefire a "strategic mistake," noting that Israel would be meeting all of Hamas' demand without managing to win even one concession beyond a temporary cessation of violence.

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