gaza iaf strike 298.88.
(photo credit: AP [file])
The Hamas government urged Gaza terrorists Thursday not to attack border crossings with Israel in order to ensure the flow of basic goods into Gaza during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
"The government calls on the Palestinian factions to avoid shelling the crossing points, in the interest of our people, especially during the holy month of Ramadan, and to keep commercial traffic going and protect security and stability in Gaza," the statement said.
The call by Hamas came shortly after a terrorist group in Gaza threatened to intensify rocket and mortar attacks on Israel during Ramadan, which began Thursday.
The Popular Resistance Committees said in a statement that it would send "messages of death" to Israel during Ramadan, a time of increased religious fervor.
On Thursday, Israeli aircraft fired a missile at a car carrying Islamic Jihad terrorists, wounding two.
The army said in a statement it struck a group of terrorists on its way to fire rockets at Israel. Islamic Jihad said two fighters were slightly wounded.
Meanwhile, Hamas began evacuating most of its security installations and civilian offices in the Gaza Strip on Tuesday, in anticipation of an IDF offensive in response to the rocket attack on its Zikim training base.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, meanwhile, arrived in Jidda for talks with Saudi King Abdullah bin Abdel Aziz on the Fatah-Hamas crisis and the upcoming US-sponsored Middle East peace conference.
PA officials in Ramallah said Abbas appealed to the Saudis to participate in the conference alongside the Palestinians.
They also said Abbas was hoping to defuse tensions with the Saudis following the collapse of the Mecca "national unity agreement" with Hamas.
The Saudis are reported to be angry with both Hamas and Fatah for failing to abide by the Mecca agreement that was reached earlier this year under Abdullah's auspices.
The officials said Abbas turned down a request from deposed Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh to meet in Jidda in an effort to resolve their differences. Haniyeh phoned the Saudi crown prince on Monday night and expressed readiness to visit Jidda for "unconditional" talks with Abbas.
Chief PA negotiator Saeb Erekat denied a report by a Palestinian news agency according to which Israel and the PA were close to agreement on a declaration of principles for a final settlement to the Israeli-Arab conflict.
"There is no such document," Erekat said. "We are unaware of any deal between the two sides."
In Jerusalem, the Prime Minister's Office also issued an unequivocal denial of the existence of such a document, saying that no Israeli official had been involved in drawing up a declaration of principles.
Sources in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post that members of Hamas's paramilitary Executive Force had evacuated their bases for fear of being targeted by Israel.
They said almost all of Hamas's major institutions, including the prime minister's office, had also been deserted for the same reason.
Palestinian journalists said Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders had been advised to stay away from their homes, while others had gone underground. They said many residents were purchasing basic goods such as milk and bread as Israel was rumored to be planning an invasion of the Gaza Strip with large forces.
"There is a feeling that war will erupt any moment," said one journalist. "Most people are expecting a harsh Israeli response to the rocket attack."
Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders praised the Kassam attack on Zikim, saying it was a "natural response to Israeli atrocities" against the Palestinians. They called the attack "the dawn of victory" and vowed to continue firing rockets into Israel.
"Resistance is a legitimate right of the Palestinians," said Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum. "The resistance is entitled to respond to Israeli crimes so as to deter the enemy."
He said the rocket attack was meant to send a message to Israel, the Americans and "their allies in Ramallah" - a reference to Abbas and his Fatah-controlled PA government.