Egyptian Official Says Israel, Hamas Agree on Truce to Begin Thursday
By VOA News
17 June 2008
Egypt's state news agency says Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas have agreed on a truce set to begin Thursday.
The official MENA news agency Tuesday quoted an unnamed senior Egyptian official as saying the truce's first phase is a mutual and simultaneous period of calm in the Gaza Strip, which will start Thursday morning (0300 GMT).
Hamas officials say they are committed to the truce. So far, Israeli officials have not confirmed the deal, but say their representative is heading to Cairo to be updated on the progress of the truce negotiations.
Announcement of the truce came after Palestinian officials said two Israeli air strikes Tuesday in Gaza killed six Palestinians.
The Israeli army has confirmed the strikes. Army officials say "terror activists" were the target of the first attack in the southern town of Khan Younis and had no immediate details on the second near the town of Deir el-Balah.
Egyptian mediators have been trying for months to persuade the two sides to stop fighting in and around Gaza and to agree on a prisoner exchange.
Israel wants Gaza militants to release a captive Israeli soldier, and it demands that Hamas stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Hamas wants Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and free hundreds of Palestinian militants in return for the captured soldier.
Some information for this report provided by AP, AFP and Reuters.
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