Palestinian farmers were shot at on land they own near the Israel-Gaza border, said Ashraf al-Qedra, a spokesman for the Hamas-run Ministry of Health in Gaza. Israel's army said soldiers fired at the legs of Palestinians after groups of them approached the border security fence in several places, damaged it and then failed to leave when warnings shots were fired, a spokeswoman said, speaking on condition of anonymity in line with military rules.
The shooting is the most serious episode of violence since Egypt brokered a cease-fire announced late on Nov. 21 after eight days of air strikes and missile fire in which 167 Palestinians and six Israelis were killed.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak told Channel 2 television that the bombardment destroyed all Hamas's heavy rockets and as much as 40 percent of the medium-range projectiles stockpiled by the Islamist group, which is considered a terrorist organization by Israel, the U.S. and the European Union. Some of the 75,000 reservists called up for a possible ground assault on Gaza are gradually being released from duty, the army said.
If it holds, the cease-fire will give Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is running for a third term in January, the success of stopping rockets targeted at Israeli civilians. It also will bolster Egyptian President Mohamed Mursi's stature as a regional player and leave the moderate Palestinian Authority in the shadow of an ascendant Hamas.
'Idea of Invading'Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said in a televised speech that "the idea of invading Gaza after this victory has ended and will not return, God willing," according to a video posted on the Guardian website.
Israeli security forces have made dozens of arrests in the West Bank in the past two days, after a bomb on a Tel Aviv bus injured 30 people on Nov. 21. Those detained last night include four members of the Palestinian parliament affiliated with Hamas as well as the assembly's secretary-general, Army Radio said.
Issa Qaraqi, minister of prison affairs in the west bank government, told reporters today that most of those detained were Hamas activists and leaders. "We view these unjustified arrests as another attempt by the Israeli government to move their aggression from Gaza to the West Bank," he said.
Massed ArmorThe cease-fire accord says that "Israel shall stop all hostilities on the Gaza Strip, land, sea and air, including incursions and targeting of individuals," and that "all Palestinian factions shall stop all hostilities from the Gaza Strip against Israel, including rocket attacks and attacks along the border."
Israel had massed armor on its border east of Gaza for an operation that would have been the first since an incursion starting in December 2008, when fighting killed 1,100 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
Hamas said the truce would result in the lifting of a military blockade of the territory, which it took control of in 2007. Israeli officials were vague about that part of the agreement, which says the issue will be "dealt with" 24 hours after the truce starts, according to a version published by the foreign ministries of Israel and Egypt.
A senior Israeli official arrived in Cairo for talks to follow up the cease-fire accord, Egypt's state-run Ahram Gate website reported yesterday.
Hamas applauded Iran for the assistance offered before and during the conflict.
"I thank those who provided the resistance with money and weapons, especially the Islamic Republic of Iran," Hamas leader Haniyeh said in a televised speech broadcast on Al Arabiya television.
Israel says Hamas must be prevented from rebuilding its weapons stockpiles through smuggling tunnels into Gaza.
SMH - Bloomberg