After a wild week of rocket attacks and reprisals, an Egypt-brokered ceasefire appears to be holding between Israel and Hamas, according to a handful of reports. Since Tuesday, five Israelis have been injured in the heaviest onslaught of rocket and mortar attacks from Gaza in months. In retaliation, Israel says it killed six Palestinian militants in Israeli air strikes. On both sides of the border, schools have closed for fear of more attacks, as ceasefire agreements between the two sides are often violated. But now, the BBC, AP and Reuters report that a calm has emerged after Egyptian defense officials secured a truce between the two sides. Reuters reports that the last known rocket fired from Gaza was on Wednesday at 8 p.m. (2 p.m. EDT).
As the tenuous ceasefire continues, Egypt's new government has emerged as a competent broker of peace between the two sides. On Israeli Army Radio, Israeli defense official Amos Gilad said Egyptian officials were instrumental in restoring tranquility. "The Egyptians have a very impressive ability to articulate to (Hamas) that its primary interest is not to attack and use terror against Israel or other targets," he said, but he noted that no direct agreement had been forged with Hamas, which doesn't recognize the Jewish state. "It can be said categorically that there is no agreement with Hamas, there has never been and there will never be. ... The only thing that has been set and said is that there will be calm. We are not interested in an escalation."
Meanwhile, the AP's Amy Teibel reports that Hamas has also acknowledged Egypt's role in brokering the cease-fire. "We said we'll abide by the calm if the occupation abides," said Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha. "It happened over the phone with Egyptian intelligence." To secure the ceasefire, Hamas will have to prevent other militants in Gaza from launching rocket attacks, something the BBC's correspondent says is unlikely. "The underlying conflict between Palestinian militants and Israel remains; any truce is unlikely to be permanent," reports the news service. For his part, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to hit Hamas harder if rocket attacks continue. "We didn't ask for this escalation and didn't initiate it," he said today. "But if it continues, we are prepared to embark on a far more extensive and penetrating operation."