Shaky Israeli-Palestinian ceasefire enters 2nd day (2)

08:09, April 12, 2011      

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Israeli soldiers walk near the Iron Dome rocket shield system in a field in the southern city of Ashkelon April 9, 2011. (Xinhua/Reuters Photo)

"There's going to be a ceasefire, because it is in the common interest for both Israel and Hamas to reach a temporary truce," Shurab said.

In parallel, Palestinian militant groups said they would throttle back Grad and Kassam rocket, and mortar fire, after an incessant rain of more than 120 projectiles since Thursday sent tens of thousands of Israelis into bomb shelters and protected rooms.

Israel reportedly unofficially agreed to the rickety truce, which the Palestinians are calling a "hudna" - a time out in between battles in Arabic - shortly before a Kassam rocket exploded near Ashkelon Sunday evening.

The weapon caused no injuries or damage, and Israeli officials said they'd overlook such attacks, as long as they only hit unpopulated areas.

"It all depends on the other side," a Defense Ministry official said, according to Israeli daily Ha'aretz.

"If a barrage of missiles falls in a town and there are casualties, that will change the situation - but if a rocket lands in an open field we will look at that differently," according to the official.

While both sides - from the political and military level, to the man-in-the-street - are grateful for the break in the violence, neither has any illusions that the cessation of attacks are a done deal.

"Hamas has been busy rebuilding its forces for the past two years, and this can only mean we're facing an all-out clash," a senior army officer told the Ynet news site on Monday.

"Everyone knows that the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) has much greater power and capabilities, and many in the public believe that we should use all our force," a security establishment official told the newspaper.

"But on the ground, the reality is much more complicated, and there are other considerations, including unwanted escalation on the other side. Therefore the balancing point is very important. We need to know how to transmit a message to the other side, while at the same time knowing where and when to stop," the source said.

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