Israeli Army Chief of Staff, Dan Halutz, criticized during a meeting to the Knesset Foreign and Security Committee the decision making process that led to the declaration of ceasefire with the Palestinians, and claimed that the army was partly involved in the decision.

Meanwhile, Israel’s Defense Minister, Amir Peretz, warned the Palestinian Authority that in spite of the ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, Israel could carry what he described “fierce retaliation” to the firing of homemade shells into Israeli areas adjacent to the Gaza Strip.

Several Palestinian factions warned on Monday that the Israeli declared ceasefire apparently did not include a ceasefire in the occupied West Bank, especially after the army killed one fighter and one woman near Jenin, and carried wide-scale arrest raids in the occupied West Bank.

Halutz said that the ceasefire did not include clauses that require Hamas movement to stop arming its fighters, and thus according to him, the declared ceasefire only serves them.  

Member of Knesset Yuval Steinitz, from the Likud Party, said that in accordance to what Halutz explained, this ceasefire does not serve the Israeli interests in stopping the armament of Hamas.

“On the ground, we have an Israeli-Palestinian deal which states that Israel gives a green light to the smuggling of weapons into Gaza”, Halutz said, “This means establishing rocket power in the Gaza Strip that is capable of threatening Israel”.

Likud Knesset member, Sylvan Shalom, said that ceasefire and Olmert’s Monday speech “do not serve achieving security for Israel”.

“This agreement gives Hamas a chance to rearm and regroup itself”, Shalom said, “It also serves Olmert to regain some of the public trust he lost”.

Meretz member of Knesset, Ran Cohen, demanded the army to remove its artillery from the Gaza Strip, adding that the army must protect the ceasefire.

Cohen said that the Chief of Staff must remove the artillery in order to avoid the risk of having to take responsibility for Palestinian civilians killed and harmed.