Israel declared a ceasefire unilaterally early Sunday morning, Jan 18, which Hamas did NOT sign, so they did not cease their own hostilities for several more hours before declaring their own. Was there posturing going on. Yes, without a doubt.
So now we have two unilateral ceasefires, which is not exactly reassuring, since neither side is under compulsion to honor the other's. So forces for peace must act to firm peace up. Simultaneously, peace with JUSTICE must be sought, and that means investigating charges of war crimes on both sides, but even more importantly, the elephant in the living room must be confronted, and that is the Occupation. Until the Occupation is ended and Palestinians allowed a free and open state to exist in, there will never be peace.
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ITN (UK) - (Independent Television News)
Sunday 18 January 2009
Hamas announces ceasefire on Israel
Palestinian militant group Hamas has announced a ceasefire with Israel, giving the Jewish state one week to pull troops out of the Gaza strip.
It comes hours after the Israeli leaders voted to halt the offensive in region that has killed nearly 1,200 people.
A spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said earlier that if a ceasefire held in the Hamas-ruled enclave, Israel could start the process of withdrawing its forces.
A Hamas official in Cairo, Ayman Taha, said: "Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw."
The Islamist group said previously it would not stop its attacks as long as Israeli soldiers remained in the Gaza Strip.
Taha said Hamas was demanding the opening of all Gaza border crossings for the entry of "all materials, food, goods and basic needs".
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has touched down in the Middle East for an international summit on the crisis.
International leaders are holding a summit at the Egyptian Red Sea resort of Sharm el Sheikh which is to be co-chaired by Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak and French President Nicolas Sarkozy.
Also attending are United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon and senior politicians from Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Jordan.
As he arrived in Egypt, Mr Brown announced an additional £20 million of British humanitarian aid and called for renewed efforts to find a lasting peace in the region.
In an apparent criticism of the scale of the Israeli response to Hamas rocket attacks, Mr Brown said "too many" innocent people had died in the 22-day assault on Gaza.
Mr Brown said the violence in Gaza must not halt the search for a path to peace, but should spur the international community on in its efforts to establish a sustainable two-state solution.
"This conflict has once again demonstrated the urgent need to forge a longer term settlement which gives security to both Israelis and Palestinians," he said.
At least 1,206 Palestinians, including 410 children, have been killed since the start of Israel's deadliest-ever assault on the territory on December 27, according to Gaza medics, who said another 5,300 people have been wounded.
Those slain in the war also include 109 women, 113 elderly people, 14 paramedics, and four journalists, according to Dr. Muawiya Hassanein, the head of Gaza emergency services.
Since the start of the operation10 Israeli soldiers and three civilians have been killed in combat or in rocket strikes. The army says more than 700 rockets and mortar rounds have been fired into Israel during that period.