Gaza factions discuss unity, truce

Hamas, PFLP and others vow to coordinate on both armed and "popular" resistance.

hamas man 311 (photo credit: AP)
hamas man 311
(photo credit: AP)
The Palestinian factions of the Gaza Strip met on Sunday night to discuss prospects for inter Palestinian reconciliation, as well as a possible truce with Israel, Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reported on Monday morning.
According to the Arab publication, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and the Democratic Front all participated in the meeting. Representatives of the West Bank-based Fatah movement had been set to attend, but reportedly issued a last-minute cancellation.
Al-Sharq Al-Awsat quoted Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha as saying the meeting constituted the “first fruits” of a series of inter-Palestinian talks to resolve the situation in the Gaza Strip and lead to the removal of the blockade and “Israeli aggression.” He also reportedly urged the international community to take a stand against Israel’s “threats” and “policies against” the Palestinians.
The meeting came as a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit an open area outside a kibbutz in the Western Negev.
Islamic Jihad official Khaled al-Batsh was quoted as saying the discussion of the core regional issues had also touched upon mechanisms for cooperation and coordination between the Palestinian factions. The aim, he said, was to build a “united resistance front.”
Contrary to a Sunday report that the Islamic Jihad movement had decidedto temporarily cease launching rockets at Israel in favor of focusingon improving the situation in Gaza, Monday’s Al-Sharq Al-Awsat reportstressed the terrorist groups’ determination to carry out “resistance”Israel. Resistance, the leaders reportedly said, would remain aPalestinian right so long as the Israeli aggression toward thePalestinian people persisted.
The movement's spokesman, Daoud Shihab, had told its official radio station in an interview conducted on Sunday morning that the group had stopped firing rockets due to the need to lift the Gaza blockade and alleviate the Palestinians' suffering. According to Israel Radio, his remarks were later removed from the radio station's Web site. Later that day, a high-ranking member of the group told a Palestinian Web site that the organization's military wing would "continue to use rockets according to the circumstances on the ground."
Though they vowed to organize demonstrations against Israel’s refusalto release Palestinian prisoners and its “Judaization” of Jerusalem andAl-Aksa Mosque, the Gaza leaders also noted that “popular resistance” – aterm designating rioting and other non-military methods ofconfrontation – was not a sufficient alternative to “armed resistance,”meaning terrorist attacks.
The leaders reportedly praised the Khan Younis attack of last week,in which Maj. Eliraz Peretz and St.-Sgt. Ilan Sviatkovsky, both of theGolani Brigade, were killed. Several hours of clashes between IDF tanksand armed Palestinians followed, injuring three soldiers and killing,according to a Gaza medic, two Palestinian gunmen.