Israel, Hamas Agree to Begin Ceasefire Thursday

But Jerusalem waiting to see if it's 'serious'
By Kevin Spak,  Newser Staff
Posted Jun 17, 2008 9:48 AM CDT
Israel, Hamas Agree to Begin Ceasefire Thursday
An Islamic Jihad supporter fires his gun in the air during the funeral of Motaz Tafesh, killed in an Israeli air strike east of Gaza on Monday, in Gaza City, Tuesday, June, 17, 2008.    (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Israel has reached a tentative truce with Hamas, brokered by Egypt, the BBC and AP report. Starting Thursday, the two sides will begin a “mutual and simultaneous calm,” in which militants will theoretically stop their daily cross-border rocket bombardments, and Israel will in turn cease its military raids. Some border crossings will be opened.

The ceasefire is the first step in an Egyptian plan; the second stage would involve the return of captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit and the reopening the main Rafah crossing into Egypt. Hamas doesn’t directly control the rockets, but an official said he’s confident the various splinter groups that fire them will abide by the Egypt-brokered agreement. Israelis expressed cautious optimism, saying they expect negotiations on Shalit to begin on Sunday. (Read more Hamas stories.)

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