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Germany

Germany Welcomes Israel-Hamas Ceasefire

The German Foreign Ministry welcomed Wednesday, June 18 the announcement of an Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and the militant Hamas group aimed at ending months of violence in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinian militants carry the body of Moutaz Tafesh, an Islamic Jihad militant, as his funeral takes place in Gaza City

The ceasefire between Hamas and Israel brings a halt to killing on both sides

The accord has the potential noticeably to improve security in Israel as well as the economic situation of the people in Gaza, spokesman Martin Jaeger said.

The truce is due to take effect at 6 am (0300 GMT) Thursday, following which Israel is expected to ease crossing restrictions after 24 hours.

Israel imposed a blockade of the Gaza Strip in response to near-daily rocket and mortar attacks on its southern towns and villages and tightened it after Hamas seized sole control of Gaza in June 2007.

Jaeger said the German government hoped the truce is adhered to by all Palestinian groups in Gaza and that missile attacks against Israeli targets are halted.

"Germany welcomes every agreement that has the goal of stopping bloodshed," said the spokesman, who also thanked Egypt for its efforts in bringing about the ceasefire.

The terms of the truce also cover indirect negotiations on a prisoners exchange that would include the release of an Israeli soldier held captive by Hamas for the past two years.

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