Thursday, December 18, 2008

Hamas announces end to truce with Israel

Press TV reports:

The Palestinian resistance movement Hamas, has announced the cessation of the six-month-old ceasefire with Israel in the Gaza Strip.

"The calm, which was reached with Egyptian sponsorship on June 19 and expires on December 19, is finished because the enemy did not abide by its obligations. The calm is over," Hamas official, Ayman Taha, said on Thursday.

The announcement raises the prospect of an escalation in cross-border fighting.

Hamas had earlier ruled out renewal of truce in and around Gaza and insisted that authorities in the Palestinian territory have a duty to respond to any attack by Israel.

"There is no possibility of renewing the truce which ends on December 19 (Friday). The Zionist enemy destroyed it. We at Hamas have the right to respond to any Zionist aggression against the Palestinian people. It's a national duty," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum said on Thursday.

He noted that the movement would act according to the situation on the ground.

The Egypt-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Gaza came into effect on June 19, under which Israel promised to stop attacks on Gaza and ease the blockade in exchange for an end to retaliatory homemade rocket attacks.

Israel, however, has carried out several military incursions into the Gaza Strip and has kept all Gaza's border crossings closed since November 4.

In response to a stepped-up blockade of the costal strip and the killing of an Islamic Jihad Movement member, Palestinians in the besieged Gaza Strip on Wednesday fired 10 Qassam rockets at the southern Israeli town of Sderot during which three people suffered slight wounds.

Gaza Strip is experiencing a humanitarian crisis which has left more than 1.5 million residents in the region without basic supplies, including food. Patients are dying due to a shortage of vital medical supplies.