A temporary ceasefire by Hamas fighters in the Gaza Strip has not eased conditions for the 1.5 million Palestinians living in the stricken territory.
Locals have queued up outside almost empty bakeries, dozens of which may be forced to shut their doors due to a lack of flour and electricity. A six-month truce between Hamas and Israel, brokered by Cairo, expired on Friday. A Hamas official said the new truce had been called to give Egyptian mediation another chance to work: “Our brothers in Egypt persuaded us to call this day-long truce to allow humanitarian aid and medicines to come into the Strip. We discussed this with the Palestinian factions and we agreed with Egypt to a 24 hour truce to let supplies in.” But continuing rocket fire between the two ceasefires over the weekend has prompted Israel to line up troops and tanks on the border with Gaza. It is reported that one Palestinian militant was killed in an air strike on Saturday. Israeli officials have announced that Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni is to travel travel to Egypt on Thursday to hold talks with President Hosni Mubarak. Livni and Likud Party leader Benjamin Netanyahu, heading into an election in February, have both vowed to topple Hamas if they are voted in. Meanwhile, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has received the support of the Kremlin during a visit to Moscow. Russia is the only member of the Middle East Quartet which maintains relations with Hamas – and appears to favour inter-Palestinian dialogue.