Haniyeh to Islamic Jihad: Stop attacks on Israel

Two senior Islamic Jihad officials leave Gaza for talks with group's leaders in Syria; Egypt appeals to Hamas to work toward calming situation.

Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza City 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza City 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Two senior Islamic Jihad officials left the Gaza Strip on Thursday for talks with the group’s leaders in Syria about the latest wave of violence, sources close to the group said.
The officials may also visit Cairo for talks with Egyptian officials on ways of preventing a further deterioration.
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Egyptian authorities have appealed to Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to work toward calming the situation “so as not to give Israel an excuse to launch a massive military operation.”
The visit comes amid statements by Islamic Jihad leaders to the effect that they are prepared to honor an unofficial cease-fire with Israel.
The two officials, Muhammad al-Hindi and Nafez Azzam, are expected to meet with Islamic Jihad Secretary- General Ramadan Shallah and representatives of other Damascus-based Palestinian groups, the sources said.
The visit follows a phone conversation between Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh and Shallah.
According to a Hamas official, Haniyeh urged the Islamic Jihad leader to order his group to stop firing rockets and mortars at Israel to avoid an all-out confrontation in the Gaza Strip.
Another Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip, Khaled al-Batsh, announced that his group was prepared to stop its attacks if Israel also halted its retaliatory strikes.
Khader Habib, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, also indicated his group’s willingness to return to the “period of calm” if Israel stopped its attacks.
“The question of whether to escalate the resistance is dependent on developments on the ground,” Habib said.
“As long as there is an aggression, we can’t stand by and do nothing.”
He added that “calm would be met with calm.”
In a related development, Palestinian Authority security forces on Thursday released two top Islamic Jihad figures who were arrested a day earlier in Jenin.
The two, Tareq Ka’dan and Khaled Jaradat, were arrested from their homes shortly after the bomb explosion in Jerusalem that killed a woman and injured dozens of others.
Islamic Jihad had welcomed the bombing, but stopped short of claiming credit for it.