Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri 311 (R).
(photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters)
GAZA - The Gaza Strip's Hamas rulers said on Sunday they wanted to end the recent round of fighting with Israel after Defense Minister Ehud Barak signaled willingness to agree to a ceasefire.
Palestinian factions are not interested in escalation," Hamas spokesman
Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters. "If the Israeli aggression stopped, it
would be natural for calm to be restored."
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call for a cessation of violence stands in contrast to Saturday's vow
to match Israeli attacks, when Hamas said it would escalate operations
against Israel to include a wider range of
targets deeper into Israeli territory if the IDF failed to halt its
aerial assaults on the Gaza Strip.
Zuhri had blamed Israel for an
escalation in violence, telling Reuters "If the Israeli escalation
continues, amid international silence and complicity, the reactions by
resistance factions will broaden."
Israel Radio reported that officials in Jerusalem had received a request from
Hamas' political wing through intermediaries asking for a cease fire Saturday afternoon.
According to the Palestinian source, Hamas Prime Minister in Gaza Ismail
Haniyeh accused Jabari of "megalomania" for his actions in escalating
the situation, according to the report. He added that Jabari's decision
to escalate the situation was partly motivated by the assassination of
his close friend, Ismail a-Lobed, who was the organization's point man
for smuggling weapons into Gaza from the Sinai Peninsula.
Lobed was apparently Hamas' contact person with Beduin smugglers and his
assassination presented a huge loss of smuggling routes for the
organization, Israel Radio quoted the source as saying.
The current escalation began on Thursday when Hamas fired an anti-tank
missile against a school bus in the Gaza border region. A 16-year-old
boy was critically injured in the attack.
In the following 48 hours, the IDF forcefully attacked terrorists and Hamas commanders in Gaza. Over 20 Palestinians, including Hamas members have been killed in the
strikes so far.
The death toll since Israel launched its retaliation for an attack on a
school bus that critically wounded a teenager on Thursday has climbed to
19 Palestinian militants and civilians.
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