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Middle East
Israel and Gaza factions agree on truce
Egyptian-brokered truce reached after 72 hours of airstrikes and rocket attacks that left 25 Palestinians dead.
Last Modified: 14 Mar 2012 04:10

Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip have agreed to an Egyptian-mediated truce to end days of cross-border violence that have left 25 Palestinians dead, according to Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials.

Gaza's Hamas leadership and the Islamic Jihad faction confirmed the ceasefire with Al Jazeera, after four days of Israeli airstrikes on the besieged Palestinian territory..

A spokesman for Islamic Jihad said the group was ready to respect a truce if Israel ended its "aggressions".

"We accept a ceasefire if Israel agrees to apply it by ending its aggressions and assassinations," Daud Shehab said.

The senior Egyptian official told Reuters news agency that both sides had "agreed to end the current operations", including an undertaking by Israel to "stop assassinations", and "to begin a comprehensive and mutual (period of) calm".

An Israeli minister confirmed that an "understanding" had been reached for a truce.

"In fact there is an understanding, and we are following what's going on in the field," Matan Vilnai, home front defence minister, told public radio without going into detail but adding that "apparently things are calming down".

Death toll

Israeli air attacks on Gaza killed seven more people on Monday, taking the death toll to 25 in hostilities that erupted on Friday, Palestinian medical sources said.

Israel has said it is hitting back at scores of rocket attacks, with more than 40 fired on Monday alone. However, the violence started with Israeli assassinations of Islamic Jihad members.

IN VIDEO

Paul Brennan's report from Gaza on Israeli air attacks

Eighteen of the Palestinians killed since Friday were identified by medical officials as fighters and five as civilians.

At least 74 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and three Israelis have been wounded.

Islamic Jihad said two of the dead were members of its military wing, the al-Quds Brigades.

Medics also reported six air raids in the early hours of Monday that injured 35 people, and another two raids around the city of Khan Younis, which left two dead and two others wounded. 

Medics said another strike killed a 15-year-old boy and injured six other students near a school in northern Gaza.

"Sometimes there is collateral damage, and of course Israel is sorry about that," Efraim Inbar, a defence analyst, said.

"Over the years we have perfected techniques, but it's a war. And if we are hit then we have to hit back ... No country in the world would accept missiles being shot at its citizens."

Al Jazeera's Cal Perry, reporting from a hospital in the northern Gaza Strip, said, "The main issue that people here are talking about is civilian casualties ... and they are asking if Hamas' military wing will get involved, with weapons far strong than those that Islamic Jihad is using."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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