Egypt brokers ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians | News | DW | 13.03.2012
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Egypt brokers ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians

A ceasefire between the Israelis and the Palestinians appeared to be holding several hours after it came into force. No Israeli airstrikes or Palestinian rocket attacks were reported.

Egypt has brokered a ceasefire to end four days of violence that has left more than 20 Palestinians dead and wounded a handful of Israelis living near the border with the Gaza Strip.

An Egyptian security official told the Reuters news agency that Israel and Palestinian militant groups had agreed "to begin a comprehensive and mutual calm."

The Palestinian group said to be behind most of the rocket attacks, Islamic Jihad, said it had agreed to the truce, but that it had not done so unconditionally.

"We accept a ceasefire if Israel agrees to apply it by ending its aggressions and assassinations," Islamic Jihad spokesman Daud Shehab told the AFP.

Speaking on Israel Radio, the country's civil defense minister, Matan Vilnai confirmed that the most recent bloodshed "appears to be behind us."

Weapons fall silent

The ceasefire appeared to be holding, several hours after it came into effect, with no Israeli airstrikes or Palestinian rocked attacks reported since one a.m. local time.

The latest violence broke out on Friday with Israel's targeted killing of the head of the Popular Resistance Committees. Palestinian militant groups responded by firing hundreds of rockets into southern Israel.

Palestinian health officials said a total of 24 people were killed, including 19 militants. At least five Israelis were reported injured in Palestinian rocket attacks.

Israeli officials credited the country's new missile-interception system, Iron Dome, with keeping down the number of its citizens wounded. The military uses the system to track incoming rockets and attempts to intercept those that could pose a threat to Israelis. Military officials said Iron Dome had successfully intercepted more than 50 Palestinian rockets over the past four days.

pfd/ncy (AP, Reuters, AFP)