"The ceasefire offers a period of calm for our fighters to recover and prepare for our final goal of evacuating Palestine," said Abu Abir, spokesman for the Popular Resistance Committees, a Hamas-allied terror organization in the Gaza Strip responsible for many of the recent rocket attacks against Israeli communities
"We will keep fighting (Israel), but for the moment we will postpone certain parts of the military struggle," Abu Abir said.
Abu Abir was one of several terror leaders speaking to WND after a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants took effect yesterday morning.
Israel removed its ground forces from Gaza and agreed to not launch anti-terror operations in the Gaza Strip in exchange for Palestinian promises to halt attacks against Israel, including the cessation of rocket fire against Jewish communities near Gaza.
Palestinians have been firing rockets from the Gaza Strip since Israel evacuated the territory last summer. In the past few weeks, Palestinian rocket attacks from Gaza have intensified exponentially, killing two Israelis and disrupting life in several Jewish cities.
The recent increase in rocket bombardments prompted calls by the general public here and by many in the Israeli defense establishment for a large-scale Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Israel Defense Forces officials reportedly presented multiple military plans to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to dismantle some of the terror infrastructure in Gaza, minimize rocket attacks and attempt to halt rampant weapons smuggling from neighboring Egypt into Gaza.
IDF military intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and Yuval Diskin, director of Israel's Shin Bet Security Services, both warned in recent speeches to the Knesset if Israel doesn't launch a major offensive in Gaza, Palestinian groups there will soon have military capabilities similar to those of the Hezbollah guerilla organization in Lebanon.
But Olmert yesterday said he had faith the cease-fire would work. He said it could lead to a comprehensive peace deal with the Palestinians.
"All of these things ultimately could lead to one thing – the opening of serious, real, open and direct negotiations between us so that we can move forward towards a comprehensive agreement between us and the Palestinians," Olmert told reporters yesterday, speaking about the ceasefire.
Olmert said he would be willing to meet with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for peace talks in the near future.
About two hours after the cease-fire was imposed yesterday morning, three rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel. Hamas and Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility.
A short time earlier, Abbas ordered the heads of Palestinian security forces to ensure Gaza militants respect the truce, Palestinian officials said.
Olmert said Israel would display "patience and restraint" in the face of Palestinian violations of the cease-fire.
Palestinian Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, a Hamas leader, said all major militant factions in the Gaza Strip had reaffirmed their commitment to the truce after the rockets were fired yesterday.
"Contacts were made with the political leaderships of the factions and there is a reaffirmation of the commitment of what has been agreed to," Haniyeh said.
Terror leaders: We need period of calm to recuperate
Meanwhile, terror leaders from every major Palestinian faction in Gaza, speaking to WND, said their groups would for now abide by the cease-fire, which they stated would be used to re-supply their arsenals and prepare for a conflict with Israel.
The Committees' Abu Abir said, "We will reinforce very quickly and rush what we are doing to prepare (for attacks against Israel) in Gaza and in the West Bank."
Abu Abdullah, a senior leader of Hamas' so-called "military wing," told WND Hamas agreed to the cease fire "because we need a period of calm to recuperate. This lull in fighting will not bring us to speak about peace."
Abu Abdullah is considered one of the most important operational members of Hamas' Izzedine al-Qassam Martyrs Brigades, Hamas' declared military wing.
He pointed to Hamas' doctrine, which calls for the destruction of Israel and which refuses to recognize the Jewish state.
"The political leadership (of Hamas) will never compromise on these values," the terror leader said.
Abu Abdullah said Hamas has its own political reasons to respect the truce.
"We wish to show Islam as a ruling party is capable of leading the Palestinian people. Since Hamas was elected, we have been through only chaotic periods. We want a period of calm to prove we are not only a revolutionary movement but to show the Palestinian people our rule is without the corruption of (the rival) Fatah (party)."
But Abu Abdullah said the cease-fire would ultimately end in violence.
"All the Palestinian people and all the Muslims will launch a direct confrontation with Israel. This may come soon or it may take some time," Abu Abdullah said.
Abu Luay, a leader of Islamic Jihad in Gaza, told WND Israel's call for a cease-fire "proves our rocket attacks work. The Zionists know there is now remedy for our rockets."
Abu Ahmed, the leader of the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in the northern Gaza Strip, told WND his terror group would respect the ceasefire.
The Brigades, responsible for scores of suicide bombings, shootings and rocket attacks, is the declared military wing of Abbas' Fatah party.
"We will respect the cease-fire as the president (Abbas) has ordered us to do," said Abu Ahmed. "We keep our right to respond to any Israeli aggression. Our group does not give up any of its ideals, which is a withdrawal of the Israelis."
Reprinted by permission of WorldNetDaily