Israel to display patience and restraint: PM

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday said that Israel would display "patience and restraint" in the face of Palestinian breaching of a cease-fire that went into effect earlier in the day, local media said.

Speaking at a high school in the Bedouin town of Rahat, Olmert said that Israel must give the truce a chance and pledged that "the government of Israel will not miss this opportunity for calm."

"I hope the ceasefire will take effect in the West Bank as well, although it currently does not apply there; however, responsibility and good will may lead to the beginning of serious, open and direct negotiations between us and the Palestinians," Olmert was quoted as saying.

The prime minister added that "In the past few weeks the Israeli and Palestinian offices have been in constant contact, and there are understandings; but these must mature in negotiations, and I hope this will happen soon."

"Although there are still breaches from the other side, I ordered troops to show restraint and to give the ceasefire a chance," Olmert said.

Israel and the Palestinian factions in Gaza officially began the cease-fire at 6 a.m. on Sunday, following an agreement reached between Palestinian National Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian factions.

Abbas made a phone call to Olmert on Saturday to inform him of the deal and Olmert accepted the offer of cease-fire.

However, three Qassam rockets hit Israel in the first few hours after the truce went into effect, causing no damage or injuries.

One of the rockets hit Sderot, another fell in an open area north of the western Negev town, and the third landed close to a local kibbutz. The military wings of Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for the continued Qassam rocket fire on Israel.

Abbas on Sunday ordered heads of Palestinian security forces to ensure that Gaza militants respect the truce, Palestinian officials said.

Defense Minister Amir Peretz said Sunday morning that any attempt to fire into Israeli territories would be considered a breach of the cease-fire and treated with severity. According to Peretz, Israel is interested in quiet, but would not accept attacks on its citizens.

Source: Xinhua



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