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Uneasy truce holds in Gaza

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 Uneasy truce holds in Gaza
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The uneasy truce between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas continues to hold in the Gaza Strip. However, scepticism over the Egyptian-brokered deal refuses to go away with people and politicians on both sides remaining wary.

The truce was agreed after months of indirect negotiation between Hamas and Israel, which had prepared a wider military offensive in Gaza to halt militant rocket fire. Underscoring the fragility of the ceasefire, a Palestinian was killed in an Israeli missile strike targeting rocket launchers in Gaza just minutes before it began.

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh has guaranteed that all militant groups will abide by the agreement as long as the Israelis do. Meanwhile, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert will travel to Egypt next week to hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak. An Israeli negotiator is due to fly to Egypt the same day to resume negotiations on a proposed prisoner swap with Hamas.

Israel says the re-opening of Gaza’s Rafah Crossing into Egypt hinges on the release of Corporal Gilad Shalit, seized in a raid by Hamas militants two years ago. The Palestinians have produced a list of prisoners they want freed in return, although it is understood Israel has balked at some of the names.