Hamas: Palestinian factions not interested in escalation

Spokesperson for Hamas says that "it would be natural for calm to be restored" in Gaza if Israel ceases attacks.

Hamas Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri 311 (R) (photo credit: Osman Orsal / Reuters)
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.
"The 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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Sunday's 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.