Israel Refuses to Sign Cease-Fire Until Soldier is Released
Israel has stated that there will be no cease-fire until a soldier captured by Hamas is released. They have refused to lift the blockade on border crossings until Hamas hands over Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier held captive since 2006.
The announcement happened on the same day Israel sent air strikes into the southern area of the Gaza strip, although no one was wounded.
Israel has decided not to lift its blockade on border crossings into the Gaza Strip until the militant group Hamas hands over a captive Israeli soldier. The decision to set the soldier's release as a top condition is expected to complicate prospects for a long-term truce between Israel and the militants in Gaza.
Israeli warplanes struck a number of sites in the southern Gaza Strip on Wednesday, causing some damage but no casualties, Palestinian residents and Hamas security officials said.
Egyptian mediators and Hamas representatives are angry with Israel for adding the soldier's release deal to the cease-fire negotiations. They had hoped to finalize a deal in the next few days, while this new situation may take some time to iron out.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert intends to bring before the cabinet for its approval tomorrow a demand that conditions a cease-fire deal on the release of abducted Israel Defense Forces soldier Gilad Shalit. Olmert updated Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak on his position and stressed that Israel would not agree to a different arrangement for a cease-fire deal.
Hamas on Wednesday slammed Israel's decision that links the fate of ceasefire and lifting Gaza blockade to the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit.