Gaza militants offer peace

2011-03-26 22:31

Gaza City - Palestinian militant factions announced in the Gaza Strip on Saturday, after a week of bloody clashes with Israel, that they are committed to calming tensions if the Jewish state reciprocates.

Hamas official Ismael Radwan told reporters after a two-hour meeting with Islamic Jihad and other factions that "we are committed to calm as long as the occupation [Israel] commits to it".

The announcement comes a day after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Israel was ready to act with "great force" in response to rocket and mortar fire, which sparked retaliation that killed eight Palestinians.

Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader, told AFP after the meeting that "everybody confirmed that they respect the national consensus by calming things with the Zionist enemy".

But he said this "depends on the nature of Israeli behaviour, and we insist on the need to respond immediately to each escalation by the occupiers".

And Osama al-Haj Ahmed, a Popular Front leader, said "the factions confirmed their commitment to national consensus in order not to give the aggressors any pretext" for attacking.

On Wednesday, Hamas had already pledged to restore calm in the coastal enclave.

Spokesperson Taher al-Nunu said "we will work to restore the field conditions that were prevalent over the last few weeks".

Avoiding new confrontations

He was referring to a de facto truce that was broken on March 16, when an Israeli air strike killed two Hamas militants in Gaza.

And Ismail Haniya, the Hamas premier in the enclave, said he had been making contacts with other factions "with a view to Gaza avoiding new confrontations with the Israeli occupation".

Netanyahu said Israel had been "subjected to bouts of terror and rocket attacks" and that "we stand ready to act with great force and great determination to put a stop to it".

"Any civilised society will not tolerate such wanton attacks on its civilians," he said.

Just before the Gaza meeting started, the Israeli army said, a rocket was fired from Gaza on the Israel town of Sderot, causing no casualties or damage.

Overnight, Gaza militants fired two rockets into Israel, with one damaging a house where Israeli media said eight sleeping people were unharmed.

Visiting the site, Israel's southern front commander Major General Tal Russo said it appeared that Hamas was unable to impose calm on Gaza.

"There is currently anarchy on the other side," the Ynet website quoted him as saying. "Hamas is finding it difficult to turn the clock back."

Calm returning

As Netanyahu spoke on Friday, Defence Minister Ehud Barak toured the Gaza border with army chief Lieutenant General Benny Gantz, saying calm seemed to be returning to the area.

And he indicated that if the rocket attacks stopped, Israel would also halt its strikes into Gaza.

"We don't intend to let the terror organisations again disturb the order but we will do all we need to to return the [military] activity to the border line itself," Barak said.

In other developments, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas held positive talks in the West Bank city of Ramallah with Hamas officials to discuss efforts to reconcile his Fatah party with Hamas, sources on both sides said.

Last week, Abbas responded favourably to a Hamas invitation to talks that would end the split and lead to the formation of an interim government.

Hamas and Fatah have been at loggerheads since the early 1990s. Tensions boiled over in 2007, when the enmity erupted into bloodshed that saw the Islamists kick their secular rivals out of Gaza.

Since then, Gaza has been effectively cut off from the West Bank, which is under the control of Fatah, and repeated attempts at reconciliation between the groups have led nowhere.

The disunity of the Palestinians has prevented them from taking a common stance in peace talks with Israel, which are now off the table.

In Israel this week, US Defence Secretary Robert Gates said Washington firmly backed Israel's right to respond both to the rocket fire and to a Jerusalem bus bombing on Wednesday, which he described as "repugnant acts".

But he suggested Israel should tread carefully or risk derailing the course of popular unrest sweeping Arab and Muslim countries in the Middle East.

Israel's leaders have appeared reluctant to be dragged into another bloody war with Hamas, especially as they lack international support for any new offensive on Gaza.

  • smurfdogg - 2011-03-26 23:18

    Until Iran and Syria lean on them to fire the next volley of rockets.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-03-27 00:34

      it could also be Iran and Syrian forces firing the rockets at israel in order to instigate a situation of war. If that happens, i'm sure the protests against them would lessen quite a bit as the rest of the muslim world start chanting "Death to Israel" in response.

  • Observer - 2011-03-26 23:21

    "Khader Habib, an Islamic Jihad leader..." - is he related to Adam Habib???

      Goddok - 2011-03-27 06:21

      Rings a bell doesnt it ?

  • not4sale2 - 2011-03-27 00:24

    usual biased reporting: Hamas is not offering 'peace', merely a ceasefire with the clear understanding to everyone that hostilities will resume as soon as they regroup. And pitching this 'offer' to Israel if IT reciprocates overlooks the fact that it was Hamas who initiated the latest round of tit-for-tat

  • Arno Young - 2011-03-27 00:49

    News 24 Quotes AFP: 'He was referring to a de facto truce that was broken on March 16, when an Israeli air strike killed two Hamas militants in Gaza.' The truth is however that the Palestinian militants broke the truce: The attack was in response to a rocket fired earlier on Wednesday from Gaza into southern Israel, which did not cause any injuries but did reportedly fall in the town of Sderot. Well done News24! It is quite unfortunate that you continue to go unchecked with your anti-Israeli propaganda.

      ebdg3000 - 2011-03-27 07:08

      Exactly, Arno, I also picked that up. Disgusting reporting by news24 - as is increasingly becoming the case. Typical communist/ANC strategy where a lie is stated as fact and then repeated so often that it becomes accepted as the truth. That a media house can stoop to this sickens me.

      ebdg3000 - 2011-03-27 07:10

      And don't forget the family that were butchered in their beds which was celebrated in Palestine by the handing out of candy.

  • slg - 2011-03-27 01:56

    Israel is occupying the West Bank because they captured it when the Palestinians, backed by Egypt and others at the time, invaded Israel twice. Israel fought back and captured this territory. I agree they've held on to it for too long, but it is rich for the Palestinians to ignore how Israel came to occupy it.

  • Goddok - 2011-03-27 06:27

    They are like naughty children, creates trouble and then when they must be punished they want to cry foul. Israel should teach them a lesson.

  • Cyril - 2011-03-27 09:01

    Remove Oil from an Arab and what is he???

  • Jaimo - 2011-03-27 14:31

    The Arabs begin fighting each other and uprising as soon as they stop using Israel as a scapegoat. So, what do they do? Start conflict with Israel again to take the attention off each other. The ones to feel sorry for are the Palestinians. They are just being USED by the cowardly Arab despotic leaders as CANNONFODDER and HUMAN SHIELDS. The Palestinians must go home to Jordan/Egypt/Syria from where they came and the Arabs must leave Israel olone and behave themseves! Prophecy tells us that this wont happen and they'll go on antagonising Israel till ARMAGEDDON, and be slain!

      islam4ever - 2011-03-27 23:56

      when u fucckers going to ever understand that you cannot go on over the millinum,stealing other peoples land and then proclaiming as yours.Your forefathers came from Europe stole the land of the American Indians,the South american Indians,the Abroginals of Australia,this land which you now proclaim as your home,every where,u fucckers went ,stole the land and today u want to act self rightious.Remember this,the true Jews ,not all the socalled immigrants that have filled into Isreal,stealing palestianian land and calling it their birthright,have been living with their Palestianian brotheren in peace untill the early 1900s when a BRITISH politician decided to carve up PALESTINE . According to census carried out in ISRAEL,most of the immigrants where converts not even born Jewish. SO before you open that that trap of your go and study up your EUROPEAN books and read about what your forefathers did before posting your comments.

      Zanu - 2011-03-28 09:16

      Dear Islam firstly I don’t care about what you have to say cause your are a racist: 1) There were Jews there before Islam was born 2) If a Jew converts today to Islam, He can call Mecca home, and that is ok right? You hypocrite! 3) The only "Christian" olim came from the USSR in 1991... Some (100 thousand) later converted to Judaism so what? 4) European Jews were in Europe before the Romans brought Christianity to Europe... so who cares where these Jews came from. 5) Muslims have like 40 odd countries, from Malaysia to Pakistan... from Dubai to Morocco... the Jews deserve a homeland, especially such a small one that is the pathetically small size of the Kruger National Park. If you, as a Muslim, think that Israel should not exist just because it is surrounded by Muslim nations then you are a plain out racist. The Jews deserve a home like everyone else on this planet. Lastly, and most importantly...There was only a Palestine when the British were there (a land mix of Muslims Jews and Christians), before that it was owned by/controlled Ottomans, the Romans and before that the Jews (=/-5000 years). Palestine was called Palestine only by the British Mandate time, before that is was a no name brand like India and Pakistan... so stop making up history to suet your religious beliefs.

      Rush99 - 2011-03-30 12:15

      Fact: Jews, Christians and Muslim lived in Jerusalem and surrounds in peace for more than 1400 years. Fact: Jews were welcomed to Palestine, Morrocco, other Muslim countries during Spanish Inquisition and other atrocities against them Fact: Palestine is the land of the Palestinians, not the Muslims, not the Arabs, not the Jews, not the Israelis. Fact: A Palestinian may be of the Jewish, Christian or Muslim faith or an atheist. Fact: Zionism is racism and is not Judaism Fact: If I oppress you in Europe, I cannot compensate you with another person's property Fact:Palestine is Anglicised Philistine, which pre-dates Israel

      NodrogBob - 2011-03-30 18:03

      Hey Jaimo this oak has a lot of cheek. Why doesn't he go and study the history books and see how his Muslim moon god brothers (who by the way is dead) conquered countries by the sword and took over lands illegally. For sure judgement is going to come on them quickly when Jesus comes back at Armageddon!

      NodrogBob - 2011-03-30 18:05

      Rush99: I think your facts are very muddled!

      NodrogBob - 2011-03-30 18:09

      Zanu well replied to the islamic racist!

  • NodrogBob - 2011-03-30 18:33

    Oh sure noddy. Now you losers want to offer a handshake and make peace after you were the one's that started shelling Israeli towns and Israel threatened to use some muscle. Israel should give you some of your own medicine back, but they of course who are the true peace and reconciliation makers have far more dignity than you and hold back from retaliation, in the hope that they might live in peace with you, but as the Bible accurately states they will only have a false peace for a short while and then all hell breaks loose!

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