- Title: MIDDLE EAST: Gaza rockets hit Israel despite unilateral ceasefire
- Date: 18th January 2009
- Summary: (SOUNDBITE) (Hebrew) YANN JAVIENSKY, RUSSIAN IMMIGRANT, SAYING: "What we need? We need to push more for a bigger war, we need to hit with a big strike and that is enough, like in Chechnya. We need Putin here." ASHKELON, ISRAEL (JANUARY 18, 2009) (REUTERS) ISRAELI FLAG HANGING AT STREET CORNER VARIOUS OF RESIDENTS SITTING AT CAFE
- Embargoed: 2nd February 2009 12:00
- Topics: International Relations
- Reuters ID: LVA7G60FMU94VVKOOARCUEJ3OEPO
- Story Text: Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip launched rockets into southern Israel on Sunday (January 18) in defiance of the unilateral ceasefire that Israel declared hours earlier. Hamas had pledged to ignore the ceasefire.
An Israeli military spokesman said at least five rockets were launched and four hit in open areas near the Israeli town of Sderot.
Israeli aircraft attacked rocket launchers after Palestinian militants fired the salvoes into southern Israel in defiance of a unilateral Israeli ceasefire, a military spokesman said.
Earlier Israel halted its 22-day-old Gaza offensive at 2 a.m. (0000 GMT), saying it had achieved all its objectives but that a troop withdrawal was contingent on Hamas ceasing its fire completely.
Residents of the battle-torn city of Gaza carried their personal belongings on their back as they returned to their destroyed homes.
"After we heard that the situation is better, and that the Israeli tanks were evacuated from the place, so we decided to return to our houses.
Our houses are destroyed," said Ali Hamed who returned to his home in Gaza City.
"Thank god that people are still alive, and farewell to the people who were killed. I hope that there will not be another war and destruction.
All that happened was just for the sake of holding the power of the chair," said another resident, Umm Ahmed.
In the morning hours, a Reuters photographer saw a column of tanks and troops crossing into Israel from positions in the northern Gaza Strip. The Israeli military said they were removed for "rest and relaxation".
Across the border, some Israeli residents of towns hit by rockets launched by Hamas expressed scepticism that the ceasefire will hold.
"They still have the ability to fire," said Sderot resident Sasson Salah. "We have not achieved anything and this land will not see calm for 40 years."
"We need to push more for a bigger war, we need to hit with a big strike and that is enough, like in Chechnya. We need Putin here," said another Sderot resident who immigrated from Russia.
Without an accord with Hamas, diplomats said they feared Israel would let only a trickle of goods into rubble-strewn Gaza, hampering reconstruction and creating more hardship for its people.
Israel launched air strikes on the Gaza Strip on Dec. 27 and ground troops pushed into the enclave a week later, saying its main aim was an end to the rocket fire that had killed 18 people in Israel over the previous eight years.
Israeli attacks killed more than 1,200 Palestinians, and some 700 civilians during the offensive, Gaza medical officials said. Israel said hundreds of gunmen were among the dead. Ten Israeli soldiers and three civilians hit by rockets were killed.
- Copyright Holder: REUTERS
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