Last updated: 1 November, 2011

Truce halted major Israeli operation in Gaza

Egypt said on Tuesday that the truce it negotiated between Gaza militants and Israel this week had prevented a “large scale” Israeli military operation against the coastal strip.

“The efforts made by Egypt in the past few day culminated in the successful prevention of a large scale Israeli military operation against Gaza,” Egypt’s ambassador to the Palestinian Authority, Yasser Othman, said in a statement to AFP.

“Efforts are continuing to end the violations of the truce,” he added.

Militants in Gaza said on Monday they were committed to a truce with Israel after a flare-up in fighting that saw dozens of rockets fired from the coastal territory into Israel and a series of deadly Israeli air strikes.

The violence killed 12 Palestinians and one Israeli and raised fears of a major conflict.

Despite the truce, several rockets landed in Israel on Monday, causing no damage or injuries, but Othman said he was convinced the ceasefire would hold.

“From its various communications, Egypt felt the desire of… all the Palestinian factions to restore the truce to protect the lives and property of the Palestinian people and remove any pretexts from Israel,” he said.

Israeli defence officials who spoke on condition of anonymity confirmed to AFP that the military had agreed with Egypt to act with restraint until at least midnight.

But they added that renewed Palestinian fire would meet with a harsher and quicker response than the recent Israeli strikes, without giving details.

Violence has periodically flared between Israeli forces and Gaza militants firing rockets into the Jewish state, but the last large-scale operation against the Palestinian territory ended in January 2009.

That operation, which was intended to end rocket fire from Gaza into Israel’s south, claimed the lives of some 1,400 Palestinians in Gaza — at least half of them civilians — and 13 Israelis, including 10 soldiers.