Hamas will protect truce: Gaza minister

AFP , Thursday 13 Jan 2011

Hamas officials reaffirm their commitment to maintain a truce on rocket fire with Israel

Hamas movement rulers will ensure a truce on rocket fire against Israel is protected, a minister said Thursday, a day after militant factions agreed to a period of calm.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, the Hamas minister said the enclave's rulers would be sure to protect the calm.

"The national understanding among the factions means they won't give Israel any reason to make war on Gaza," he said, as Hamas security forces fanned out along the northern and eastern sectors of the border to enforce the truce.

"The government will protect this understanding because we don't want another tragedy to befall the Palestinian people," he said.

"Now Gaza is quieter than it has been since 2007 and Israel knows this."

The deployment of security personnel along the border began late on Wednesday after a meeting between Hamas and the main armed factions, at which the groups agreed to avoid escalating tensions with Israel.

At the meeting, Hamas passed on a message from Egypt and other Arab leaders about the threat of a new Israeli operation in response to a rise in rocket fire from Gaza.

By Thursday morning, witnesses confirmed Hamas had reinforced its troops along the border east of Gaza City, as well as to the north and were checking all cars on roads leading to the border.

Security sources confirmed the move, but Hamas refused to comment. In past weeks, Gaza armed groups fired scores of rockets into Israeli after Tel Aviv launched a series of air strikes, raising fears of another massive operation along the lines of the 2008-9 war.

The 22-day war, which ended in a ceasefire on 18 January 2009, killed 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.

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