Jihad, Aksa Brigades end cease-fire

Abbas, Egypt try to extend tahdiya, which formally ended New Year's Eve.

islamic jihad 298.88 (photo credit: )
islamic jihad 298.88
(photo credit: )
The Islamic Jihad and several armed groups with ties to the ruling Fatah movement including the al-Aksa Martyrs' Brigades said Saturday they wouldn't necessarily observe a truce with Israel in 2006. The limited cease-fire, negotiated in March, expired Saturday, and Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian mediators are trying to win an extension. Hamas has largely stuck to the agreement, as part of what has been portrayed as Hamas' gradual transformation into a political party. The smaller Islamic Jihad never laid down its arms and carried out a series of suicide bombings and other attacks against Israel in recent months. Islamic Jihad claimed it was committed to the truce in 2005, but that the attacks were in retaliation for perceived Israeli truce violations. In a statement Saturday, Islamic Jihad said: "We reaffirm that the official end of the truce agreed to in Cairo last March comes at midnight on Saturday." It was not clear whether the group would participate in talks on extending the cease-fire. "The factions have been freed from the tadhiya agreement because Israel continued its actions in the territories and did not release security prisoners," said a spokesman for Islamic Jihad. Hader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, said that his organization is not committed to continuing the 'calm' because of Israel's "aggression," and said that this was a response to IDF offensives in the West Bank and Gaza. At least two of several dozen armed groups affiliated with Fatah also noted that the cease-fire expired Saturday. Ala Sanakra, a local leader of Fatah gunmen in the West Bank's Balata refugee camp, said a truce should not be extended unless Israeli troops withdraw from all of the West Bank. In Gaza, a statement of the Fatah-affiliated Al Aqsa Martyrs' Brigades said Israeli strikes in Gaza "blew up any truce" and called on all groups to try to carry out suicide attacks against Israel.