The head of the Negotiation Affairs Department of the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organization), Dr. Sa'eb Ereikat, stated on Saturday that Egypt is making substantial efforts toward achieving a truce between the Palestinians and Israel. He added that that Egypt's role is welcomed by the Palestinian Authority. In his statement from the West Bank city of Ramallah, Ereikat said that Palestinian President Abbas asked his Egyptian counterpart Hussni Mubarak, during their meeting last week in Egypt, to facilitate a truce with Israel and to work towards opening the borders between Egypt and Gaza. These negotiations are directed to ease the suffering of the 1.5 million Palestinians living under seige in the Gaza strip.
Israel had placed the Gaza Strip under a total siege since June 2007, in which the military has prevented food, medicine and fuel supplies from entering the Palestinian coastal region. In addition, the army prevented Palestinians from leaving Gaza for any reason, including medical emergencies.
Ereikat called upon Palestinian resistance factions based in Gaza to cooperate with the Egyptians in preventing any attacks by the Israeli military on the Palestinians in the Strip.
The Israeli military escalated its attacks on Gaza three weeks ago in three day military offensive which saw 125 Palestinians killed, including 95 civilians. The youngest victim was two weeks old.
The Israeli military attacks and Palestinian homemade shell fire at Israeli areas from Gaza have decreased notably in the past two weeks. However, earlier this week Israel carried out assaults in the West Bank, killing five resistance fighters, which threatens to destabilize the current lull in violence. The Hamas movement, which took control of Gaza after overrunning Fateh forces last June, demands that Israel stops its attacks in all of Palestine and ends the siege on the Gaza Strip in order to reach a cease-fire.
Fawzi Barhoum, spokesperson of Hamas, told IMEMC:
"The problem is that the Israeli occupation is waging a full-scale war against our people. We hereby stress that we will not give a free truce to Israel, the Israeli occupation must end all its acts of aggression and violence and it must end the siege on Gaza in order to bring the suffering of our people to an end."
Ereikat said that a full scale calm between Palestinian resistance and the Israeli army in Gaza will save the lives of many Palestinian civilians, since the majority of Israeli military assaults occur in civilian areas.