"Hamas is keen on maintaining the period of calm that has prevailed in the Gaza Strip in the past few months," a Hamas official said. He stressed that Hamas did not participate in the recent wave of rocket and missile attacks on Israel.

The official said that Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday night phoned the head of Egypt's General Intelligence Force and urged him to intervene to secure a ceasefire with Israel.

'Iran cuts funding for Hamas due to Syria unrest'
IDF strikes Hamas military installations in Gaza

Following intensive talks with representatives of various Palestinian groups, including Islamic Jihad, the Egyptian authorities informed Hamas leaders that a ceasefire agreement would go into effect later in the day.

However, the Popular Resistance Committees, which lost several of its leaders in an Israeli air strike last Friday, said it would not abide by any ceasefire.

Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the group, said that the PRC would continue to defend Palestinians against "Zionist aggression, arrogance and crimes."

He added: "Our position is clear - we have nothing to do with a ceasefire with the enemy. The enemy must bear the consequences of its crimes and we won't stop the resistance."

Only a number of hours earlier, the IAF launched air strikes on Hamas military installations in the northern and southern parts of the Gaza Strip. The strikes were in retaliation for the continuing rocket fire from Gaza into population centers in southern Israel, including Beersheba and Ashdod.

Nine Israelis and at least 30 Palestinians have been killed in the spike of violence that began with the multistage attack last Thursday.

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