A Truce Between Israel and Hamas?

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ISRAEL-GAZA BORDER - Egyptian officials reportedly say that Israel and Hamas "have agreed on the first phase" of a truce to end the violence emanating from the Gaza Strip, according to a MENA agency report.

The first phase is slated to begin on Thursday at 6:00 a.m. with a "mutual and simultaneous calm," said an unnamed Egyptian official.

The news comes after an Israeli attack killed five Islamic Jihad terrorists today in an air strike on the Strip.

"Egypt hopes that the two sides will exert all efforts to bring the calm to a success," MENA quoted the official as saying.

But should the truce fail, it appears Israel will launch a military operation into the Gaza Strip.

"The IDF will respect a cease-fire but is also getting ready for a large-scale military operation in the Gaza Strip," IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-General Gabi Ashkenazi told The Jerusalem Post.

The War on the Border

Meanwhile, there's a war going on at Israel's southern border.

For seven years, Islamic terrorists have fired thousands of rockets and mortars from Gaza on the other side of this border into Israeli communities.

In their wake, the barrages have left a bolder Iranian-backed Hamas and a besieged Israeli public along its southern border. Yankela Cohen lives on the front line in Kibbutz Nahal Oz.

"We are living in Russian roulette -- not knowing what will happen in the next minute or what will happen in the next few hours. We feel there is no light at the end of the tunnel," Cohen said.

Major Chezy Deutsch of the Israeli Home Front Command and a New York native described how Americans can relate to the situation some Israelis are facing.

"Recently, a three star American general who visited said it best when he told us that if there were rockets coming in from Canada, he doubts that the American government would wait seven years before they would react," Deutsch said.

Israeli Gov't. Has a Decision to Make

Cohen told a group of visiting journalists what needs to be done.

"A decision must be made. That's for sure. We are protesting and we are asking, demanding that the government make a decision. There is no way to continue in this situation," he said.

But the Israeli government says the end of stopping these daily rocket and mortar attacks is in sight.

"We are close to a situation whereby either the Egyptian track will bring quiet to the south or the Israeli army will bring quiet to the south," Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert's spokesman Mark Regev said.

"Either way there will be quiet in the south and our citizens living in southern Israel will be free from these daily rocket barrages," Regev said.

But Israelis living on the front lines say they've heard those promises before.

"We have a lot of promises from the government but once it comes time to fulfill it, it is far behind," said Cohen.

The Jerusalem Post contributed to this report.

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Chris Mitchell

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