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Hamas pins renewal of Gaza truce to Israel commitment
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09:22, December 05, 2008

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The Islamic Hamas movement said Thursday a ceasefire between Palestinian militant groups and Israel, due to expire later this month, would not renew if Israel continues to violate its terms.

"Hamas and the Palestinian factions hold internal consultations to make a decision regarding the lull with the Zionist occupation," said Khalil al-Haya, a Hamas leader in Gaza.

"The lull would not be extended under the aggressions and siege against our people in the Gaza Strip and West Bank," he added.

The Egyptian-brokered six-month ceasefire declared effective since June 19 in the Gaza Strip was rocked by a new round of violence between Palestinian armed groups and the Israeli army in early November.

The two sides started to engage each other on Nov. 4 when Israel killed six Hamas militants in an incursion to destroy an under-construction tunnel at the border which Israel said was used for abducting Israeli soldiers.

Since then, the Palestinian armed groups resumed rocket attacks against Israel, while the Jewish state intensified military operations in Gaza and tightened blockade on the Hamas-controlled enclave.

The spate of tit-for-tat attacks on both sides which has left 19 Palestinians killed pushes the truce between Israel and Hamas to the brink of collapse.

Under the ceasefire, Israel has to open the commercial crossings into Gaza Strip and cease military operations in exchange for a halt of rocket-fire from Gaza.

Hamas accuses Israel of not openning the crossings properly when the ceasefire was in effect.

On Tuesday, Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip since mid June last year, launched a series of talks with Palestinian factions to discuss the future of the ceasefire. The first session of discussions involved Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders.

For the less influential Islamic Jihad, the ceasefire "was a result of several factors of Palestinian weakness in which the factions accepted the lull," said Jameel Yousef, an Islamic Jihad official.

He implicitly blamed the power struggle between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas' secular Fatah movement, saying the fighting and the ensuing split between the Gaza Strip and West Bank contributed to the weakness.

Hamas took over the rein of the Gaza Strip from Fatah-predominated security forces after a week-long infighting in June 2007, leaving Abbas consolidating his rule in the West Bank.

Yousef insisted that the "Palestinian people did not get any advantage of the lull and that the Zionist enemy was the only beneficiary," adding that "The enemy wants to end the resistance by sending a few shipments of food."

On Thursday, a Palestinian official said Israel decided to open a cargo crossing into Gaza Strip to allow delivery of limited amounts of vital aid, the fourth restricted opening in a one-month-old full closure Israel imposed on the Hamas-controlled territory.

Meanwhile, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) echoed the Islamic Jihad by saying that Israel was the only side that harvested the fruits of the ceasefire.

"We don't think the lull with the occupation a right policy to repeat," the PFLP said in a statement sent to the media.

Israel first imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip when Hamas won parliamentary elections in 2006. Israel tightened the siege after Hamas captured an Israeli soldier in the same year and imposed a full blockade in June 2007 when Hamas seized control of the strip.


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