Palestinian forces dismantle positions in Gaza after cease-fire begins (AFP, June 19, 2008)
An IDF soldier directing a tank onto a truck near the Kerem Shalom border crossing just outside the Gaza Strip (Reuters, June 19, 2008)
The New York Times, in a June 19, 2008 article titled "Gaza Cease-Fire Takes Hold," by Isabel Kershner and Graham Bowley, described the situation between Israel and the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip:
"The start of a six-month truce between Israel and Hamas, the Palestinian militant group, took effect as scheduled on the Gaza border at 6 a.m. Thursday...
If it holds, Israel hopes the cease-fire will halt the recurrent rocket and mortar fire from Gaza that has killed four Israeli civilians this year and caused widespread trauma and disruption of life in Israeli towns and villages close to the Gaza border.
For its part, Hamas wants to end the frequent Israeli military strikes and incursions into Gaza. It also wants an easing of the economic blockade that Israel has imposed since Hamas took over the area a year ago."
Reuters posted a June 19, 2008 "Global News Blog" by Alastair Macdonald titled "Can Gaza Ceasefire Hold?," wrote:
"The Gaza Strip and the Israeli towns and farms surrounding the Palestinian enclave spent a quiet morning on Thursday after a ceasefire deal came into force after dawn between the Jewish state and the Hamas Islamists who rule Gaza’s 1.5 million people. The absence of mortars and improvised rockets falling on the Israeli side of the border and of Israeli air strikes and ground incursions on the other were welcomed by ordinary people. For Palestinians in Gaza, the biggest hope is an increase in supplies which Israel has kept under tight blockade since Hamas seized control a year ago.
Both sides, as well as Egypt which mediated the deal over several months and the international powers, have plenty of reasons to see the truce work. The UN even told Reuters it could help pave the way for UN peacekeepers in Gaza. But equally there are plenty on all sides who are already saying it is as doomed as previous 'calms' between Israel and Hamas, which has been shunned by Western powers for its refusal to give up violent tactics such as suicide bombings and Gaza rocket salvos."
CNN, in a June 19, 2008 article posted to its website, titled "Israel, Hamas Watch to See if Truce Will Hold," stated:
"The cease-fire comes a year after the Palestinian Islamic party Hamas took control of Gaza from forces loyal to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
The deal is supposed to last six months. The terms stipulate that Palestinian militants stop attacks on Israel. Israel, in turn, will halt raids inside Gaza -- and gradually ease its economic blockade if the truce holds...
'We need this cease-fire,' a senior Hamas official told CNN. 'We want this to work.'..
Israel has stressed that the cease-fire agreement is one step in a larger process that must include the release of Cpl. Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier who is being held by militants in Gaza.
If Shalit is returned, Israel will reopen its border crossings...
By agreeing to deal with Hamas through Egyptian mediators, Israel appears to be bending its policy of refusing to deal with Hamas, which does not recognize Israel and refuses to renounce terrorism. Several Israeli newspapers were critical of the cease-fire, saying it amounted to a political victory for Hamas.
Shiron dismissed that assessment.
'We have not dealt with Hamas, we spoke to the Egyptians,' the Israeli Foreign Ministry spokesman said. 'The idea is to prevent bloodshed, and prevent Israeli citizens and Palestinians alike from getting hurt. And if this can be achieved, then I think this is good for everybody.'"
Ha'aretz, an Israeli daily newspaper, in a June 19, 2008 article "Israel-Hamas Truce Takes Hold in Gaza," by Haaretz correspondents Amos Harel, Avi Issacharoff, Barak Ravid, and Yuval Azoulay, wrote:
"The agreement for a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas in the Gaza Strip went into effect Thursday morning at 6 A.M., a day after about 30 Qassam rockets were fired from the Strip at communities along its border, lightly wounding one woman.
Moments before the truce took hold, the Israel Air Force killed a member of a Qassam rocket squad preparing to launch near the Bureij refugee camp in central Gaza. Palestinian sources said the man killed was a Hamas operative...
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert warned Hamas on Thursday that the cease-fire was the militant group's last chance to avoid an IDF incursion into the Gaza Strip...
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev on Thursday said Israel would fully implement all its commitments but added, 'Our eyes are open, we are closely following what the other side is doing.'..
Meanwhile, the IDF forces on the border with the Gaza Strip have been instructed to maintain restraint early in the cease-fire and to avoid any offensive operations.
The soldiers have been told they are allowed to respond if they come under fire; however, they have not been issued precise rules of engagement for the new situation that went into effect Thursday morning.
Similarly, no specific instructions have been issued on what actions to take if armed Palestinians are identified close to the border fence inside the Gaza Strip...
Hamas sources said they do not intend to deploy any of their forces along the border so as to prevent any IDF operations.
They noted: 'There is a decision among all factions that whoever violates the agreement will be dealt with by his organization.'
The military wing of Hamas, Iz al-Din al-Qassam, has already announced that it intends to abide by the cease-fire agreement.
In a statement the Iz al-Din al-Qassam issued as the truce went into effect, the group declared that the ceasefire was 'not in anyway a free gift,' and warned against any violations by Israel.
'Qassam Brigades is fully ready to launch a military strike that would shake the Zionist entity if they did not abide by all the items of the calm deal and the Zionist enemy would be responsible for any foolish act they may commit,' the statement said."