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
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
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.