Monday, April 11, 2011

Hamas urges Israel to stop attacks

A senior member of Hamas, the militant group that rules Gaza, made an unexpected call on Israel to stop a confrontation escalated to affirm its willingness to halt its rocket attacks if Israel stops attacking Gaza. Gaza militants have fired about 10 rockets and mortar shells into Israel, police said, but Israel immediately responded to the attack.

In a night session of the Israeli security cabinet, the army was ordered to "continue to act against terrorists to stop the firing (of rockets) against Israel." Deputy Foreign Minister Ghazi Hamad made the call fluent Hebrew speaking at state broadcaster Israel Radio. "We are interested in the calm and we want the Israel Defense Forces to suspend their operations," said Hamad, who like other leaders of the Islamic group learned Hebrew during detention in Israeli prisons.

Other Hamas officials said they were in touch with mediators in efforts to restore peace. Among the Israeli authorities had mixed messages on Sunday. Defense Minister Ehud Barak said that if Gaza militants suspended their attacks, so would Israel. However, the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, took a more combative.

"If the attacks against Israeli citizens and soldiers continue, the answer will be harder" than it has been, Netanyahu said during his weekly meeting with the cabinet.

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