Palestinian groups in Gaza have agreed to stop firing missiles into Israel following meetings sponsored by President Mahmoud Abbas and Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, the Jerusalem Post reports, however, some terrorist organizations are denying any such agreement has been reached and promise to continue their attacks.
The unilateral cease-fire was to take effect at midnight, Saturday, Israel time, and is conditioned on Israel launching no new raids into Gaza.
The current Israeli Defense Force offensive, launched June 28, followed the killing of two soldiers and kidnapping of a third, 19-year-old Cpl. Gilad Shalit. The capture of two other soldiers by Hezbollah terrorists who crossed Israel’s northern border has led to Israel’s present invasion of Lebanon.
The agreement, reached at a closed meeting, included representatives of Islamic Jihad and Haniyeh’s Hamas. Both groups have been blamed for many of the rocket attacks launched on southern Israel.
Announcement of the cease-fire comes on the eve of U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice visit to the Mideast and is seen as an effort by the Palestinians to convince the U.S. to call for an end to Israeli military operations in the West Bank and Gaza.
Haniyeh told reporters today that the U.S. goal was to destroy Hamas and Hezbollah and to turn the Mideast into a region dominated by Israel.
“If the ‘new Middle East’ means striking at the resistance and turning Israel into the dominant power in the region, all the people in the Middle East will reject it,” he said.
“But if the new Middle East they want means ending the Israeli occupation and the establishment of an independent Palestinian state with Jerusalem as it capital, as well as the return of all the refugees and the release of all the Arab prisoners, we will certainly welcome it.”
Despite the announcement of the cease-fire, Haniyeh said the Palestinians would never give up. “The Israelis are killing us with American weapons,” he said. “But we will never surrender and we will continue to defend our rights.
Indeed, some of the armed groups fighting in Gaza say they will continue attacks on Israel, despite the reported agreement.
“This is a completely false report,” Abu Ahmed, a spokesman for Islamic Jihad, told Associated Press. “Resistance will continue because the aggression exists and rockets are one of the tools we use in this resistance.”
As WorldNetDaily reported, the chief rocket coordinator for the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades in Judea and Samaria claimed major Israeli cities and the country’s international airport would eventually become Palestinian rocket targets, particularly following Prime Minister Ehud Olmert’s planned withdrawal from most of Judea and Samaria, which borders Israel’s main population centers.
“Our goal is to cover all Israeli regions and to bring them inside the distance of our rockets,” he said, speaking from Nablus in northern Samaria. “Every Israeli site or city is inside our capabilities and if some sites are not yet they will be very soon. The Ben Gurion Airport, Tel Aviv, Jerusalem every site and city will be targeted. We are speaking about a new era in the conflict between us and the enemy.”