The hardline Palestinian groups Islamic Jihad and Hamas formally ended their seven-week-old truce amid vows of all-out war after the fiery death of a leading militant in an Israeli air strike. They issued a joint statement Friday to bury the ceasefire, which had been slated to last for three months, blaming Israel for the latest outbreak in violence and citing the United States as an accomplice providing political cover. The Israeli government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, which had respected but never formally recognised the truce, already considered it dead after a suicide bomb Tuesday that killed 20 passengers on a Jerusalem bus. Hamas effectively called off the ceasefire Thursday after Ismail Abu Shanab, one of its top officials, was killed with two bodyguards in a hail of rocketfire on his car in central Gaza. But Islamic Jihad waited until Friday. “We announce together today that Sharon assassinated the truce and delivered the final blow in killing political leader Ismail Abu Shanab,” the joint statement said. Full Story
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