Israel holds fire for now in Gaza

israel declares ceasefire

Israel has declared a unilateral ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, ending a fierce 3-week battle against the radical Islamic terror organization Hamas.

Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert said Israel’s offensive in Gaza has attained all its goals, and said Hamas had been hit hard by the military action.

Addressing the nation on television, Olmert said the truce would begin at 2 a.m. Sunday but Israel’s forces would remain in Gaza, withdrawing only at “a timetable reasonable to us”.

Minutes after Olmert publicly announced the ceasefire, Islamic Hamas movement’s armed wing al-Qassam Brigades sent a statement to journalists, saying they will “continue resistance as long as the occupation of Gaza continues and the blockade is imposed.”

U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon expressed relief after the truce was affirmed. The United States welcomed Israel’s unilateral ceasefire.