Mahmoud Abbas
Photo: Reuters
Abbas: Hamas could have avoided Gaza raids
Palestinian president saysm 'We talked to them and told them please, do not end the truce'; adds 'we do not want Strip to be destroyed'

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said on Sunday the Islamist group Hamas could have avoided the Israeli attacks on Gaza.


"We talked to them and we told them 'please, we ask you, do not end the truce. Let the truce continue and not stop' so that we could have avoided what happened," he said in Cairo.


In a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Abbas said he wanted to protect the Gaza Strip. "We want to protect the Gaza Strip and we don't want it to be destroyed."


The Palestinian president added that he was interested in "returning to dialogue as soon as possible."


Last week in a press conference with Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, Abbas said, "We cannot agree to an invasion of Gaza, or even an aerial attack."


Abbas also spoke out against the ongoing rocket attacks on Israel from the Strip, saying, "We are against the rocket attacks that we call acts of foolishness."


Sunday morning, Hamas renewed rocket attacks on Israel and expanded its range of fire. Three rockets landed east of Ashdod, another land in the yard of a house near Ashdod. Explosions were also heard in Ashkelon. There were no reports of injuries.


Hamas reported the death toll from the Israeli attack on the Strip was higher than 270, with 620 people injured, out of which 180 were in serious condition.


The IDF said the massive attack that began Saturday morning struck the organization's control and command abilities as Hamas officials went underground for fear of being hit.


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