Al Jazeera, Jan. 18, 2009
Hamas and their allied Palestinian factions have announced an immediate one-week ceasefire in the Gaza Strip, giving Israel a week to pull out of the territory.
The move, following a meeting of the factions in Damascus on Sunday, comes a day after Israel called a unilateral truce, ending its 22-day offensive in Gaza which led to the deaths of 1,203 Palestinians.
"Hamas and the factions announce a ceasefire in Gaza starting immediately and give Israel a week to withdraw," Ayman Taha, a senior Hamas official talking from Cairo, said.
Hamas also demanded that Israel open all of the Gaza Strip's border crossings to allow in food and other goods to meet the "basic needs for our people".
Israel had already said on Sunday that it will not consider a timetable for withdrawing all of its forces from the Gaza Strip until Hamas and other militants cease their fire.
Cease rocket fire
Palestinian factions have continued to fire rockets into southern Israel since the beginning of the offensive, killing three Israelis, out of a total of 13 Israelis that have died since the begining of the war.
They have also been fighting Israel's ground forces which enterd the Gaza Strip in the second week of the offensive.
An end to rocket fire from the Gaza Strip into Israel was the stated aim of the Israeli offensive.
Israel declared a unilateral ceasefire on Saturday, with Ehud Olmert, the prime minister, stating that they had achieved their objectives.
"We have reached all the goals of the war, and beyond," he said. "[But] if our enemies decide to strike and want to carry on, then the Israeli army will regard itself as free to respond with force."
Olmert also said the war boosted Israel's deterrence and that Hamas's actions would decide when the military would withdraw.
"This operation strengthened the deterrence of the state of Israel in the face of all those who threaten us," he said.
"If Hamas completely stops its attacks, we will judge at what moment we will leave the Gaza Strip."