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Sunday, November 26, 2006

Israel vows ceasefire 'patience'

Israel vows ceasefire 'patience'

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said Israel will show "patience
and restraint", despite rocket fire from Gaza hours after a ceasefire began.
Mr Olmert said he hoped the ceasefire would also be applied to the West
Bank and ultimately lead to a peace deal.

At least three rockets were fired into Israel, one of which landed in
the town of Sderot, without causing harm.

Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has ordered his security forces to
enforce the truce agreement.

The US has welcomed the ceasefire, calling it a "positive step forward".

Peace hopes

Speaking on a visit to a school in southern Israel, Mr Olmert said
Israel had "the strength to show the patience and restraint to allow the
ceasefire to take hold.

"I have personally told our security forces to show restraint," he added

He said he hoped the agreement "can be extended into the West Bank and
that it can lead to serious, direct negotiation which could lead to a full

In the wake of the rocket-fire, Mr Abbas ordered the Palestinian
security forces to deploy in northern Gaza and enforce the ceasefire,
Palestinian security sources said.

The BBC's Alan Johnston in Gaza says it is not clear whether this means
that the security men will actually be expected to use force against militants
who might be about to launch rockets.

They have been reluctant to do so in the past, he says.

Hamas' armed wing said it launched the attacks because some Israeli
troops were still in Gaza, east of the town of Jabaliya, despite the Israelis
saying they had pulled out all their troops overnight.

A statement from the smaller Islamic Jihad group, which also claimed
responsibility, said it would not agree to a ceasefire while Israeli military
activity continued in the occupied West Bank.

Our correspondent says the ceasefire violations have been condemned by a
Hamas government spokesman and it is understood that efforts are being made
within both Hamas and Islamic Jihad to bring the situation under control and
make the truce work.

Offensive 'suspended'

Mr Abbas telephoned Mr Olmert on Saturday night to say he had agreement
from all Palestinian factions that they would stop their rocket fire.

Mr Olmert's spokeswoman Miri Eisin told the BBC that the prime minister
had agreed that Israeli forces would not initiate any offensive action after
the ceasefire began.

Shortly after the truce came into effect, the Israeli army confirmed
that all its troops had left Gaza.

Israel evacuated its settlements and military bases in Gaza last year
after 38 years in the territory, but the military renewed ground operations
after militants captured an Israeli soldier, Cpl Gilad Shalit, in a border
raid in June.

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