Ceasefire? Palestinians, Israelis accused of multiple violations

Monday, August 4, 2003

GAZA CITYŃ Virtually all of the Palestinian groups have threatened to suspend the ceasefire with Israel amid what they assert are Israeli violations. Palestinian sources said Israel has violated the ceasefire 80 times over the last five weeks.

"Hamas is running out of patience," Hamas spokesman Abdul Aziz Rentisi said.

Rentisi said Israeli troops have killed 12 Palestinians since June 29. He did not refer to Palestinian attacks against Israeli civilians during the ceasefire.

On late Sunday, the ruling Fatah movement claimed responsibility for a shooting attack on an Israeli vehicle near Bethlehem, Middle East Newsline reported. Four people were injured when a family was returning home to the Israeli community of Har Gilo opposite Jerusalem.

The Palestinian Authority has launched an effort to extend the truce with Israel.

PA officials have been meeting with Palestinian insurgency leaders to extend the current ceasefire. Hamas and Islamic Jihad have pledged to maintain a three-month truce with Israel.

PA Prime Minister Mahmmoud Abbas was scheduled to arrive in Gaza City on Monday to meet all of the Palestinian insurgency groups to review the truce declared on June 29. Officials said Abbas wants to extend the three-month truce for at least another three months.

"Abbas will keep the representatives of the Palestinian factions posted on his talks with U.S. President George W. Bush during his visit to the White House," PA Information Minister Nabil Amr said.

Israeli Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz said the military has suspended plans to withdraw from and hand over two additional cities in the West Bank to the PA. Mofaz said the government would first examine the response by PA security forces to the attack.

PA International Cooperation Minister Nabil Shaath said the PA has offered Israel a two-year ceasefire by Palestinian groups. Shaath said Israel rejected the offer and demanded that the PA dismantle what he termed the terrorist infrastructure.

PA officials said a proposal for Fatah insurgents wanted by Israel to be transferred from Ramallah to Jericho appears to have been shelved. Over the weekend, the praetorian guard of PA Chairman Yasser Arafat arrested 17 Fatah fugitives in his compound and ordered them to be transferred for detention in Jericho. Most of the Fatah insurgents refused and launched a hunger strike in protest.

Israeli officials said the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon plans to release 349 Palestinians on Wednesday. They said the release would not be delayed by Palestinian insurgency strikes.

"A decision has been made and nothing can stop it," Israeli Public Security Minister Tsahi Hanegbi said.

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