Shaky Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire enters 2nd day

08:09, April 12, 2011      

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Israel's Defence Minister Ehud Barak (2nd L) attends the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem April 10, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

by Dave Bender

The latest round of Israel-Gaza violence began to ebb Sunday night, after both sides agreed to a cease-fire. The agreement was reached with foreign assistance, Israeli Army Radio reported on Monday.

While Israeli officials denied that they had agreed to a truce, "We intend to restore calm," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday during a visit to a battery of the Iron Dome anti-missile system near Ashkelon.

"If that is also Hamas' intention, calm will be restored. If Hamas intensifies its attacks... our response will be much more severe," Netanyahu warned.

Israeli officials within the defense echelon are crediting the system with a better than 90 percent success rate in knocking some 10 Grad rockets out of the sky, before they could slam into the Israeli cities of Beersheba and Ashkelon.

The army said it would purchase four more of the Rafael Advanced Defense Systems missile and tracking radar batteries, which run 60 million U.S. dollars to 80 million dollars each.

U.S. President Barack Obama has said that his administration would forward Israel 205 million dollars to cover the cost of the weapons system, which will only be operational on a year and a half, according to Israeli officials.

Hamas' deputy defense minister, Ghazi Hamad, told Israel Radio on Sunday that, "We are interested in calm, but we want the Israeli army to stop its attacks first."

The Israeli Air Force, indeed, halted a series of punishing air strikes against what the military described as Hamas and Islamic Jihad targets throughout the Gaza Strip on Sunday.

Naji Shurab, a professor of political science at al-Azhar University in Gaza told Xinhua, that over the weekend the Israeli retaliation had been so fierce that "wherever you were in Gaza City, you could hear rockets and grenades landing."


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