Gaza peace warning as ceasefire holds firm

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An open-ended ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip is holding.

The Gaza war – the third round of fighting since the Islamic militant group Hamas seized power in 2007 – left more than 2,100 people dead, resulted in widespread destruction of the densely populated coastal territory and paralysed large parts of southern Israel during much of the summer.

Early yesterday, the Israeli military said there were no reports of violations since the ceasefire went into effect at 7pm local time the previous night.

Israeli media reported that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had deliberately not put the ceasefire issue to a vote in his security cabinet because of opposition from ministers who wanted to continue the fighting.

The UN Secretary-General has welcomed the ceasefire – but warned that “any peace effort that does not tackle the root causes of the crisis will do little more than set the stage for the next cycle of violence”.

The statement by the spokesman for Ban Ki-moon said
Gaza “must be brought back
under one legitimate Palestinian government”, that the blockade
of Gaza must stop and Israel’s security concerns must be addressed.

It adds: “After 50 days of profound human suffering and devastating physical destruction, any violations of the ceasefire would be utterly irresponsible.”

The UN statement stresses a political process that leads to two states is the only way to reach lasting peace in Gaza.

Israeli Tourism Minister Uzi Landau, a long-standing security hawk, lambasted the leadership in comments to Israel Radio for “wanting peace at any price,” an approach that he said would undermine Israel’s ability to deter militants.