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Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Israel and Hamas To Implement Ceasefire On Thursday

Barring anything unforeseen, Hamas and Israel have agreed to implement a ceasefire beginning on Thursday, according to Ehypt, who mediated.

"Both sides have pledged to halt all hostilities and all military activities against each other," Egyptian Foreign Ministry spokesman Hossam Zaki said in Cairo on Tuesday, after weeks of separate talks with Israel and Hamas.

Confirming details provided to Reuters by a Palestinian official in Gaza on Tuesday, Zaki said the truce would go into effect at 6 a.m. (0300 GMT) on Thursday.

A ceasefire would aim to end rocket and mortar bomb attacks on Israel from the Gaza Strip and Israeli raids in the territory. Israel has said it would continue preparing for possible large-scale military action should a truce fall apart.

No one is sure how long this will last, but I guess everyone will know if the rockets stop raining down on Israel from Gaza.

Earlier Thursday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Egypt would soon declare the deal unless unexpected events were to occur. "We are close to declaring an agreement on the calm, barring unforeseen developments," he said.

Another Hamas official said the two-phase deal could start as soon as
Thursday and would begin with a three-day cessation of hostilities.

The official said following the trial three days, Israel would open a border crossing with Gaza to let in raw materials banned under a months-old Israeli blockade.

He added that the second phase would focus on Hamas' returning Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit, who was abducted by militants from the group two years ago in a cross-border raid. In exchange, Israel would reopen Gaza's main gateway, the Rafah crossing with Egypt.

I am sure nobody is holding their breath to see if this will work, but even a slow down to give negotiators time to talk and think can be helpful.