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Israel seeks to extend Gaza truce with Hamas

Oct. 16, 2008 9:37 P.M. (Updated: Oct. 16, 2008 9:37 P.M.)
Bethlehem - Ma'an - Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak instructed the army and relevant security departments to try to extend the truce with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, according to Hebrew-language newspaper Yediot Ahronot on Thursday.

Barak said that "the recent interest for Israel is to continue with the truce, extending it some unspecified period of time." It would otherwise expire in December.

During a meeting in Cairo, Egyptian officials presented a list, submitted by Hamas, detailing Israeli violations to the truce, including barring the entrance of goods. Israeli officials denied several of the claims, but Egypt demanded that the amount of goods sent to the Gaza Strip be increased in any future deal.

A senior Israeli government source said that Israel "believes that continuing the truce after the approved six months is an Egyptian interest," as well for Hamas. The source also claimed that Hamas was interested in extending the agreement at least "until the summer," though he did not explain why.

The same source added that Israel thanked Egypt "for its efforts to fight smuggling" by destroying tunnels at the Egypt-Gaza border. But Israel still claimed that weapons were being taken through the tunnels, despite the best efforts of the Egyptian authorities.
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