House hit by Qassam rocket
Photo: Herzel Yosef

Report: Hamas says will withhold fire if Israel does

Palestinian faction heads announce ceasefire after weekend during which three rockets were fired at Israel. Hamas spokesman: Militants committed to restore de-facto ceasefire 'as long as the occupation (Israel) is committed.' Rocket fired at Eshkol Council during Gaza meeting

Hamas said on Saturday that Gaza militants had agreed to halt their rocket fire at Israel if the Jewish state stops launching strikes against targets in the coastal territory.


Hamas spokesman Ismail Rudwan said after a meeting with faction heads over a surge in cross-border tensions with Israel, that militants were "committed as long as the occupation (Israel) was committed" to restore a de-facto ceasefire.


Faction representatives claimed the statement was meant to block Israel's aggression towards residents of the Gaza Strip. They agreed a national consensus was required to help end internal Palestinian division.


Osama Al-Haj Ahmed of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine said at a press conference after the meeting that all factions were committed to a state of calm as long as Israel will be committed too. He stressed that "resistance was a legtimate right of our people to defend themselves."


Ahmed added that the factions support the invitation extended to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to visit the Gaza Strip.


Tensions between Hamas and the Islamic Jihad were reported over the weekend after Islamic Jihad militants refused to limit their rocket fire. A group of Islamic Jihad leaders left Gaza for Damascus last Thursday in order to discuss the escalation.

Ismail Rudwan (R), and Hamas security officials Jamal Abu Hashem and Ismail al-Ashra (L) (Photo: AFP)


It is unclear what effect the Hamas statement will have. During the faction heads' meeting a Qassam rocket was fired and exploded in an open area in the Eshkol Regional Council. No injuries or damage were reported.


Earlier on Saturday, Palestinians fired two rockets at Israel, one of which caused severe damage to a house in the Eshkol Council. The other rocket landed in an open area.


Hamas' statement comes a day before the IDF deploys theIron Dome anti-missile system in south Israel.


On Friday, Defense Minister Ehud Barak said: "We must understand that alongside the fact that this is an exceptional achievement for our defense industries, unprecedented anywhere else, it ultimately does not provide 100% coverage."


Reuters contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 03.26.11, 20:29
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