After 22 days of violence, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert declared on Saturday that Israel would end its offensive against Hamas militants along the Gaza Strip, insisting that Hamas had been "badly beaten." Hamas initially rejected the ceasefire due to Israel's continued presence in Gaza, and only hours after Olmert's announcement, rockets were fired onto Israeli land.
In a new turn of events however, Hamas has agreed to a provisional ceasefire, effective immediately, under the condition that Israeli troops depart from Gaza within the next week. Hamas also declared that it would cooperate with Egypt in an effort to forge a lasting truce.
According to a Hamas statement, "We are ready to cooperate with any efforts, especially Egypt . . . to
reach a definite agreement that meets our known demands to lift the
blockade permanently and open all border crossings."
Gaza was for the most part calm today, according to a report from the LA Times, and Palestinian rescue crews were able to access embattled areas, pulling at least one hundred bodies from buildings destroyed by shelling.
Palestinian officials report that since the offensive began, at least 1,300 Palestinians have been killed, at least a third of which were civilians. In addition, 13 Israelis are reported dead.
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