Fatwa adds focus to the ceasefire in Gaza Strip

A LEADING Islamic cleric in the Gaza Strip has ruled it a sin to violate the recent ceasefire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that governs the Palestinian territory – according a religious legitimacy to the truce and giving the Gaza government strong backing to enforce it.

The fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Suleiman al-Daya, a cleric respected by both ultra-conservative Salafis and Hamas. Salafi groups oppose political
accommodations with Israel.

“Honouring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it
shall constitute a sin,” the fatwa read.

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The truce, which was struck on Wednesday to bring an end to an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza militants who fired rockets into Israel, remains fragile, however, and details beyond the initial ceasefire have not yet been worked out. The fighting killed 169 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis.

The rocket attacks were triggered by Israel’s assassination of Hamas military commander, Ahmed al-Jabari.

The spokesman for Gaza’s Hamas government, Taher Nunu, told reporters yesterday that Hamas is committed to the truce.

“The government reaffirmed its blessing to the agreement sponsored by Cairo and emphasised that it will work to the internal Palestinian consensus and the supreme national interest,” he said, following a government meeting.

Hamas demands that Israel and Egypt lift all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of the Palestinian territory.

The restrictions have been imposed since the Islamists seized the territory in 2007.