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Islamic Jihad truce 'to protect Palestinians'

Aug. 27, 2011 8:12 P.M. (Updated: Aug. 28, 2011 7:14 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Islamic Jihad leader Dawood Shibab said Saturday that the movement agreed to a truce with Israel to protect the Palestinian people and leaders.

Islamic Jihad agreed to a ceasefire on Friday after a previous truce broke down when Israeli forces killed two Islamic Jihad militants, and the faction launched projectiles across the border.

Shibab told Ma'an that when Egypt initiated talks to renew a ceasefire, Israeli leaders had already threatened to target Palestinian and Islamic leaders.

Shibab said Egypt stepped in to broker the renewed ceasefire after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak said those who fired rockets at Israel would have "their heads separated from their bodies."

Islamic Jihad officials told Egypt the movement was not interested in escalating violence and sought a mutual ceasefire with Israel but fired missiles in self defense, Shibab said.

The senior Jihad leader said the ceasefire only applied to Gaza, not the West Bank.

Palestinian sources, meanwhile, say Egypt managed to stop Israel from following through on a plan to assassinate Ismail Haniyeh, the prime minister in Gaza, reports said Saturday.

Egypt's Al-Ahram daily quoted Palestinian sources as saying Israel's plan, approved in the wake of last Thursday's deadly attacks in Eilat, was aborted after Egypt pressured Israel to back down.

The report did not specify how Egypt pressured Israel, although media in both countries have reported over the past week that Cairo took an active role in calming tensions between the Israelis and factions in Gaza.

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