Hamas cries victory; truce with Israel holds

12:58 AM, Nov 23, 2012   |    comments
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GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip (AP) -- The cease-fire between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza appears to be holding, and Hamas leaders are declaring victory.

Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh says "resistance fighters changed the rules of the game" in the eight-day exchange of fire with Israel and the threat of an Israeli invasion of Gaza "is gone" forever. Haniyeh also urged Gaza fighters to respect the truce "as long as Israel respects it."

The mood in Israel has been mixed. Some were grateful that quiet had been restored without a ground operation that could have cost the lives of soldiers. Others - particular those in southern Israel hit by rockets over the past 13 years - thought the operation was abandoned too quickly.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu says while some Israelis "were expecting a harsher response," the offensive's aims of halting Gaza rocket fire and weakening Hamas were achieved. He added that Israel is prepared to act if the cease-fire is violated.

The death toll from the conflict grew by one Thursday. The Israeli military says a soldier died from injuries sustained in a Palestinian rocket attack that occurred before the cease-fire took effect. He's the second Israeli soldier killed in the fighting. Four Israeli civilians also were killed, while the Palestinians death toll is 161.

Associated Press

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