Page last updated at 07:53 GMT, Monday, 11 August 2008 08:53 UK

Barak admits Gaza truce success

Palestinians demonstrate at Rafah
Both Israel and Egypt have blockaded Gaza since the Hamas takeover

Israel's defence minster has acknowledged a military invasion of Gaza would not stop cross-border rocket attacks by Palestinian militants.

But Ehud Barak said a seven-week-old truce mediated by Egypt had halted the barrages for the first time in years.

Ahead of the truce, Mr Barak had said a ground invasion of Gaza was inevitable.

The Israeli army says since it pulled out of Gaza three years ago, more than 6,000 rockets and mortars have been fired from the territory.

Mr Barak said if Israeli forces invaded Gaza and stayed there two years "destroying the Hamas regime down to the last office and the last activist... you control another people against their will".

He said that such circumstances would strengthen Palestinians' support in Gaza for Hamas rather the Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his Fatah party.

But he said now the numbers of short-range unguided rockets hitting Israel from Gaza had been reduced from hundreds to a handful, and he hoped the truce would last for a year.

Israel has blockaded Gaza since Hamas seized control of the territory in June 2007, allowing in only humanitarian and basic supplies.

Israel occupied Gaza, along with the West Bank and other Arab territory, in the 1967 war. It dismantled 21 Jewish settlements in Gaza and pulled its troops out unilaterally in 2005.

About 500 people, nearly all of them Palestinians killed in Israeli raids and more than half of those armed militants, have died in violence since the troubled Israeli-Palestinian peace process was revived in November 2007.

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