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U.N.: Gaza ceasefire ‘fragile

A top U.N. official suggested Palestinian violations had imperiled the Israel-Hamas truce.

“While the Egyptian-mediated ceasefire between Israel and Hamas that had begun on 19 June was largely holding, it was nevertheless fragile,” said a U.N. report summarizing the Aug. 20 report of Lynn Pascoe, the United Nations’ undersecretary of political affairs, to the U.N. Security Council.

“Ten rockets and one mortar had been fired from Gaza into Israel, without causing casualties. During this period, no Israeli Defense Forces air strikes or incursions had been reported, though one Palestinian child had been injured by Israeli Defense Forces shooting near the border. Twelve other Palestinians had been killed, however, during a tunnel collapse along the Gaza-Egypt border. More than 25 such tunnels had been closed as part of Egypt’s efforts to curb smuggling.”

Pascoe also noted Hamas’ intransigence in the case of Gilad Shalit, the Israeli soldier nabbed by Hamas in a 2006 cross-border raid.

“Talks for the release of Israeli captive Gilad Shalit had stalled and the International Red Cross had still not been given access to him, after two years in captivity,” the report said.

Pascoe was more critical of Israel over its West Bank activities.

He cited the death of two children when Israeli troops opened fire during protests in the West Bank village of Naalin over the building of a security barrier, and also criticized increased settlement activity and reports of settler attacks on Palestinians.

Pascoe noted that peace talks with the Palestinians and with Syria continued despite Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s plans to resign. He said internecine Palestinian violence threatened efforts to achieve Palestinian unity.

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