Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Zahar revealed on Sunday that his movement’s recent decision to enforce a cease-fire with Israel came after Egypt warned that Israel was planning a military operation in the Gaza Strip.

Zahar said Hamas also received warnings from other “international parties,” but did not elaborate.

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“Egypt and international parties warned Hamas that the Israeli occupation was planning to launch a new aggression against the Gaza Strip,” he said. “Hamas and the other resistance groups are prepared for such an aggression.”

Zahar warned that Israel would suffer a “painful blow” if it launched another war.

However, he did not rule out the possibility that Israel would still wage war against Hamas “in the wake of Arab and international silence.” The Palestinians should expect everything evil from the occupation, he added.

Zahar nevertheless reaffirmed his movement’s desire to maintain the period of calm with Israel. He also denied that Hamas had deployed forces along the border with Israel to stop rocket and mortar attacks.

Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, also reiterated his movement’s commitment to the unofficial cease-fire with Israel. He pointed out that an agreement to this effect had been reached between Hamas and all Palestinian armed groups in the Gaza Strip last week.

He cautioned, however, that the truce did not mean that Hamas or the other factions had given up “resistance” against Israel.

“The situation on the ground is not designed to end the resistance or avoid it,” Ghissin explained. “This is just a way of managing the conflict with the enemy.”

Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who visited Oman over the weekend, told members of the Palestinian community in the Gulf country that Hamas had reached the conclusion the there was no point in firing rockets and missiles at Israel.

“Frankly, Hamas is not firing the rockets because they are convinced that these attacks are ineffective,” Abbas was quoted as saying.


“But the problem is that there are small radical groups that have popped up in the Gaza Strip and they are the ones behind the attacks. Hamas tries to stop them, sometimes gently and sometimes through force.”

Abbas said that he too was convinced that the attacks were pointless because they give Israel an excuse to wage another war against the Gaza Strip.

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