Egyptian shot, injured near border
GAZA: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Thursday armed groups had agreed to stop firing rockets into Israel from Gaza, but militants said such a move would be dependent on Israel halting its offensive. Yesterday all factions met and agreed on calm and stopping all actions that may give others a pretext to attack us, Abbas said in a speech at a graduation ceremony for 500 new recruits to his presidential security force. Israel, which pulled out of the Gaza Strip a year ago, has been carrying out ground and air attacks in the territory in a bid to stop cross-border rocket fire and to press for the release of an Israeli soldier abducted by militants in June. Israel has rejected demands for the release of thousands of Palestinian prisoners in return for the safe return of Corporal Gilad Shalit. About 180 Palestinians, nearly half of them civilians, have been killed in the Israeli military offensive.
An Egyptian teacher was shot in the stomach near Egypt s border with Gaza during clashes nearby between Palestinians and the Israeli army, Egyptian medical and security sources said on Wednesday. The 38-year-old man was in a critical condition at a hospital in northern Sinai. Khader Habib, a political leader of the militant Islamic Jihad group, said there had been a general tendency among most of the factions that attended Wednesday s meeting with Abbas to halt rocket attacks. He said that while Islamic Jihad would not be part of any formal deal to cease firing rockets, the group would not violate any agreement reached by other factions to stop the attacks. A Palestinian official close to the talks said factions would not necessarily announce a ceasefire deal but would likely halt their attacks if Israel did the same. The governing Hamas movement, which like Islamic Jihad is dedicated to Israel s destruction, said calm would depend on Israel halting its own attacks in the Palestinian territories. If aggression against the Palestinian people stops, this will contribute to restoring the calm that preceded the start of aggression by the occupation, said Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri, using its name for Israel. The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), whose armed wing has taken part in rocket attacks from Gaza, said it would not bend to U.S. or Israeli pressure and had rejected the idea of halting the strikes. In violence in the Gaza Strip, Israeli soldiers shot dead a Palestinian who the army said had approached the border fence carrying a bag with wires protruding from it and ignored warning fire. Palestinian security officials said he was a civilian. In his speech, Abbas said the Palestinians were putting together a plan to be presented to the United Nations to try to revive the stalled peace process. He gave no details about the plan but said he was working on it with Arab states. He also echoed demands by militant groups holding Shalit for Israel to release prisoners and said the world must not forget their plight. When they talk about the issue of the soldier, a humanitarian issue, they must remember thousands of Palestinians are in jail. They (include) women, the sick, the elderly and children. They are human and they deserve humanitarian action, Abbas said. He also urged the international community to refocus attention on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict now that a UN-brokered truce had ended more than a month of fighting between Israel and the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah. We also want to get rid of the aggression which started before [the Lebanese conflict] and is continuing. We want this aggression to end, Abbas said, hailing the resistance of the Lebanese people, who stood firm to protect their homeland. Agencies