Another “truce” goes smashingly well for Israel’s jihadist enemies. “Palestinian attacks go on despite truce” by Amy Teibel and Ibrahim Barzak for The Associated Press:
JERUSALEM – Israeli troops withdrew from the Gaza Strip as a last-minute cease-fire deal took hold Sunday morning, but two major Palestinian militant groups, saying they had no intention of stopping their attacks, fired volleys of homemade rockets into Israel.
The ongoing rocket attacks by Hamas and Islamic Jihad tempered hopes for a lasting truce, which was meant to end five months of deadly clashes. The rockets landed in open fields and caused no injuries.
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas met with his security chiefs Sunday and ordered them to send their forces to the Gaza border area by early afternoon to prevent further rocket attacks, according to Palestinian security officials. It was not clear what
action the forces would take against those launching rockets.
Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert ordered the army to show restraint in the face of the rockets.
“Even though there are still violations of the cease-fire by the Palestinian side, I have instructed our defense officials not to respond, to show restraint, and to give this cease-fire a chance to take full effect,” he said during a ceremony at a high school in
A senior Israeli official said Israel would wait a few hours to see if the attacks were isolated breaches or a full-scale violation of the agreement before deciding whether to respond. The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak to the media.
Ahead of the new agreement, which took effect 6 a.m. Sunday, Israel pulled all its forces out of Gaza, the army said. Dozens of tanks and armored vehicles were parked just over the border in a military staging ground in southern Israel early Sunday.
But Palestinian militants continued firing rockets into Israel throughout the morning. Israeli police reported at least four rockets fired at the Israeli town of Sderot and an Associated Press photographer in the border town heard at least two more strikes. Another AP photographer in the northern Gaza town of Beit Hanoun heard several rockets fired throughout the morning.
“Let’s hope that’s just the problems of the beginning,” Olmert’s spokeswoman, Miri Eisin, said of the rockets. “But if Israel is attacked, we will respond. If there are Palestinian factions that are not part of the cease-fire, it’s hard to see how the cease-fire will hold.”
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas said he had contacted the leaders of all the Palestinian factions Sunday and they reassured him they were committed to the truce.
“There is a 100 percent effort to make this work, but there is no guarantee of 100 percent results,” said Ghazi Hamad, a spokesman for the Hamas-led government.
Hamas’ own militants claimed responsibility for firing rockets into Israel after 6 a.m., clouding prospects for the truce’s longevity.
“(We) reiterate that our attacks against the enemy continue,” the group said in a statement posted on its Web site.
The Hamas militants said they continued their attacks because some Israeli troops remained inside Gaza, an accusation Israel denied.
Islamic Jihad also claimed responsibility for firing rockets into Israel after the truce, and a spokesman, Abu Hamza, denied his group had signed on to truce. However, top Islamic Jihad leaders had said they were part of the deal, and the new rocket fire suggested they were not in complete control of their fighters.