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article imageCease Fire In Gaza Holds, For Now

By Carolyn E. Price     Jan 19, 2009 in World
Twenty-four hours in, a tenuous cease fire holds. Israel slowly begins withdrawing troops while Hamas remains defiant.
For the first time in just over three weeks (since December 27, 2008), there were no air strikes, no rockets launched and no fighting between enemy combatants reported by either Israel or Hamas in the Gaza strip.
AFP reporters are saying that on the ground in Gaza City, efforts were being made by Palestinians to return to some semblance of normalcy; a few stores lifted the metal shutters that blocked the windows and doors; banks opened their doors and Hamas police forces reappeared on the streets to directed traffic. Reports say that many Palestinians are scavenging through the rubble of their homes trying to salvage whatever they can, things like clothes, television sets, books, tins of food.
The Palestinian statistics bureau reported that 4,100 homes were totally destroyed and 17,000 others damaged. The king of Saudi Arabia has pledged to give $1 billion in aid to kick start the reconstruction effort in Gaza.
There are reports that the Israeli army are slowly pulling out troops and tanks from the Gaza Strip. However, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was on Israeli Radio today and had a pointed warning for Hamas. She said that Israeli forces were prepared to strike back If Hamas resumed smuggling weaponry back into Gaza or if they renewed the rocket attacks against Israel. She is quoted as saying:
If Hamas fires a Qassam [rocket] at Israel, it will get slapped down again, as it got it now and they know this.
[Hamas] knows today what Israel does when it's harmed, the world knows what it does when it's harmed and even accepts this. Therefore, I think they won't do this again soon
In the meantime, this is what Hamas had to say:
We have given the Zionist enemy one week to pull out ... failing which we will pursue the resistance. Our arsenal of rockets has not been affected and we continued to fire them during the war without interruption. We are still able to launch them and, thanks be to God, our rockets will strike other targets.
Let them do what they want. Bringing in weapons for the resistance and making them is our mission and we know full well how to acquire weapons.
In the meantime, Israel allowed 200 trucks full of humanitarian aid to pass through its borders today.
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