'Al Quds': Gaza groups weigh cease-fire

Rocket fire would be stopped if IDF steers clear of Gaza; al-Qaida reportedly operating in Strip, W. Bank.

Hamas gunmen 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hamas gunmen 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Fears of an IDF incursion into Gaza have prompted top officials from Palestinian factions to hold a series of intensive meetings in Damascus and the Strip aimed at reaching a ceasefire with Israel, Al-Quds al-Arabi reported on Saturday. According to the London-based newspaper, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal discussed the possibility of a cease-fire with Islamic Jihad head Ramadan Shalah in Damascus. In addition, Hamas officials from Gaza and Damascus met military leaders from Islamic Jihad, the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) and Al Aksa Martyrs Brigades in order to draft a ceasefire according to which rocket fire would be stopped in exchange for the IDF steering clear of the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad sources told the newspaper that the group had welcomed the Hamas proposal, however, it conditioned the offer on Israel also stopping its mortar-shell fire and targeted assassinations. Al-Quds noted that the Egyptian government expressed willingness to mediate between Israel and the Palestinian factions. The sources added that Shalah visited Qatar on Wednesday in an effort to clarify to the Arab world the tragic consequences of an Israeli invasion of Gaza. In addition, the newspaper quoted Palestinian sources as saying that al-Qaida had begun to operate extensively in the Gaza Strip and in areas of the West Bank. According to the sources, several members of Hamas's military wing had joined al-Qaida-inspired terror cells.