JERUSALEM POST (Israel), NOUVEL OBSERVATEUR, AFP (France), REUTERS (U.S.), AL JAZEERA (Qatar), AHRAM ONLINE (Egypt), LIBERTÉ ALGÉRIE (Algeria)
JERUSALEM - An informal ceasefire brokered by new Egyptian President Mohamed Morsi was holding in most places Thursday between the Palestinian group Hamas and the Israeli army, the Jerusalem Post reported.
The truce comes after three days of cross-border violence, that included 80 rockets and mortar fire fired from Gaza into southern Israel and Israeli air raids over Gaza. Seven Palestinians, including four fighters, have been killed and 13 women wounded since Monday, while in Israel, six people were hurt within 24 hours.
Hamas has controlled Gaza since 2007, but Gaza gets almost all its supplies through Egypt, so the Egyptian government has a large influence there. There is a single passage between Gaza and Israel and it has been blocked because of the violence, stranding dozens of people, especially hospital patients. This weekend is a major Muslim festival, the Aid Al-Adha, which may have helped bring on the pause in hostilities.
“An official close to the talks” said the Hamas leadership gave an oral promise to the Egyptians to observe the ceasefire, Reuters reported, while Israel agreed not to fire into Gaza unless fired upon.
Meanwhile, Israeli Vice Premier Silvan Shalom told Israeli radio that Morsi is tougher toward Hamas than the previous Egyptian government was. “It's good for the public to know that the current leadership is acting against Hamas in a very tough way,” Shalom said.
Morsi also told Palestinian news agency Paltoday that “We will never accept any assault or siege on the Palestinian people,” the Jerusalem Post added.
AFP reports that Morsi said: “Supporting Palestine does not mean that we will declare war against anybody.” According to Egyptian news site AhramOnline, Morsi has not mentioned Israel by name since becoming president.
Each side had blamed the other for the increased fighting Tuesday and Wednesday. Hamas condemned the “Zionist aggression” that it said was an “attempt to spoil the joy of Palestinians after the historic visit of the emir of Qatar.”
The visit had been the first by a head of state since Hamas took power in 2007. The emir has also met with Israeli leaders in the past. In his visit, he promised $400 million of aid to Gaza. Liberté Algérie points out that this visit strengthened the hand of Hamas, and violated the agreement of the Arab League and the international community not to recognize Hamas.