January 18, 2009
Posted: 1516 GMT
JERUSALEM (CNN) – Palestinian militants agreed Sunday to a one-week cease-fire against Israel, Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha said.
The Hamas announcement came hours after Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert announced a unilateral cease-fire in the country's assault on Hamas in Gaza.
"We in the Palestinian resistance movements announce a cease-fire in the Gaza Strip," Moussa Abu Marzouk, a senior Hamas official in Syria, said on Syrian TV. "And we demand that Israeli forces withdraw in one week and that they open all the border crossings to permit the entry of humanitarian aid and basic goods for our people in Gaza."
The agreement covers all Palestinian armed factions, not only Hamas, said CNN Jerusalem correspondent Paula Hancocks.
The two sides had continued to skirmish for several hours after Israel said it was stopping its 22-day offensive against Hamas. More than 1,200 people died in the fighting, all but 13 of them Palestinians.
Olmert said Sunday the Israeli offensive had achieved its goals but that the Israel Defense Forces reserved the right to respond to any Palestinian violence against Israelis.
"IDF forces are in the Gaza Strip and many other units, which are surrounding Gaza, from all sides, are closely observing every corner and listening to every whisper, ready for any response that they might receive from their commanders if and when the violations continue, as they have this morning," he said at the start of the weekly Cabinet meeting, before the announcement of the Palestinian cease-fire.
Israel pulled some troops out of the Palestinian territory as it called a halt to its operation against Hamas, but others remain.
Israeli government spokesman Mark Regev told CNN they would be there for a matter of days, not weeks.
Earlier Sunday, militants fired 16 rockets into southern Israel and exchanged gunfire with troops in northern Gaza, an Israeli spokesman said.
The Qassam rockets were fired into Sderot at 9 a.m. - seven hours after Israel's cease-fire went into effect. The rockets injured one person, and Israeli aircraft destroyed the rocket launcher soon afterward, an Israeli military spokesman said.
An hour or two before the rocket attacks, Palestinian gunmen opened fire on Israeli forces in northern Gaza, the Israeli military said. Troops returned fire.
"If Hamas chooses to still launch rockets, we'll answer back and we'll answer back harsh," said Avital Leibovich, spokeswoman for the Israel Defense Forces Sunday. "It's really up to Hamas. Hamas will be accountable for any launching and every terror activity from the Gaza strip."
Israel also announced Sunday it would open an emergency treatment center at the Erez crossing point from Israel to Gaza for civilians who have been injured in the fighting. It will be "fully equipped and staffed" and Palestinians requiring more involved treatment will be sent to hospitals in Israel, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement.