`Palestinian factions to cease rocket attacks on Israel`
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Last Updated: Tuesday, April 06, 2010, 15:30
Jerusalem: In an effort to prevent a strong Israeli retaliation, Islamist Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, has pressurised smaller militant factions to cease rocket attacks on the country's southern areas.

Hamas and three other Palestinian factions -- Islamic Jihad, Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) -- have reached an agreement to stop firing Qassam rockets on Israel, Palestinian sources in Gaza said.

Representatives of the factions, which held emergency discussions over the past few days, "stressed the need to maintain the unofficial ceasefire with Israel reached in January 2009 in our interest," the sources said.

Iranian-backed Islamic Jihad movement's spokesman, Daud Shihab, acknowledged that the factions' leadership had met and decided to cease rocket attacks against Israel.

However, Palestinian media reports also included denials from Jihad members, a move interpreted by many as not wishing to give the impression to the Palestinian public that it has succumbed to Hamas pressure.

DFLP, however, clearly stated that it has decided to stop firing rockets on Israel's southern communities that could lead to an escalation.

"This does not mean that we are stopping the resistance against Israel," Saleh Zeidan of the DFLP said adding, "We are just working on developing coordination between the various groups, while taking into consideration the interests of our people."

Hamas, which vanquished Palestinian Authority (PA)-backed security forces in pitched battles in June 2007, meanwhile, looks determined to prevent any escalation and its forces have increased patrols in areas used for firing rockets, a Gaza resident said.

Media reports in the Arab world yesterday said that Egypt is making intense efforts to reduce tensions between Israel and Hamas, for fear it could spark renewed fighting in the region like in January 2009 that led to deaths of thousands in Gaza and grave damage to property.


First Published: Tuesday, April 06, 2010, 15:30

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