Cease-Fire Agreement in Israel

June 25, 2003 - Posted at: 10:45 a.m. CDT

JERUSALEM -- There's word of a three-month cease-fire agreement by two Palestinian militant groups.

Some Hamas officials are downplaying reports of a truce agreement.

A Palestinian official had said some key Palestinian groups -- including Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- had agreed to halt attacks on Israel for three months.

But a Hamas leader in Gaza says the deal isn't final. Abdel Aziz Rantisi says the group will have ``an answer'' in the coming days -- and that what he calls ``Israeli terrorist actions'' will be taken into account.

Rantisi was apparently referring to an Israeli air strike today in Gaza. Israel says it was targeting Hamas members who were about to carry out an attack. Rantisi himself had been targeted by Israel in a previous strike.

There's no confirmation yet from Palestinian or Israeli officials. But Israeli military intelligence officials have been saying they expected such an agreement.

A senior official of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction now confirms that three key Palestinian groups -- including Hamas and Islamic Jihad -- have agreed to halt attacks on Israel for three months.

The official was speaking on behalf of Yasser Arafat's Fatah faction, which also signed the agreement.

According to the Fatah official, a formal statement about the cease-fire will be made later today.

Another Hamas leader -- when asked about the report of a truce deal -- said ``this is all lies.''

Meanwhile, the Israeli military is confirming that it's staged another targeted attack in the Gaza Strip.

Palestinians say two people were killed and more than a dozen others hurt when Israeli helicopters fired missiles at two cars near a southern Gaza city today. The Israeli military says it was targeting a Hamas cell that was planning to fire mortar shells at an Israeli settlement.

The military says the targeted militants had fired rockets at Israeli sites in the past. Jewish settlements in the area have been frequent targets of mortars and homemade rockets.

Palestinian security officials say one of the targeted cars belonged to a Hamas activist. The attack came soon after a Palestinian official said that Hamas and other militant groups had agreed to a temporary halt on attacks against Israelis.

Israel has staged several targeted attacks recently in Gaza. Asked if militants should expect more strikes in the near future, an Israeli government spokesman said they should be ``constantly'' concerned.

Even as word came of the cease-fire agrement, Palestinian security sources reported that Israeli helicopters had fired missiles at two cars in the Gaza Strip.

The Palestinian security sources said Israeli helicopters fired three missiles at cars near a southern Gaza city, and that a woman was killed. But other Palestinians said the explosion might have been accidental.

In the past, militants have set off explosions while transporting or building bombs.

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