by Saud Abu Ramadan
GAZA, Jan. 11 (Xinhua) -- Despite the recent escalation of violence between
Israel and militant groups in the Gaza Strip, the Islamic Hamas movement
preferred not to react to Israel's attacks and had called on minor Gaza militant
groups for restraint.
Palestinian observers see that Hamas movement is not currently interested
in going into another war with Israel, similar to last winter's "Cast Lead"
Israeli military operation, which killed more than 1,400 people, adding that
Hamas focuses more on political activities rather than military actions.
In the last 10 days, Gaza militant groups, mainly the Popular Front for the
Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), and the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC)
fired Russian made Grad rockets at southern Israeli towns, in addition to firing
dozens of mortar shells at Jewish communities in the vicinity of Gaza.
Israel, meanwhile, had immediately reacted to launching rockets and mortars
from the Gaza Strip at southern Israeli towns, by carrying out a series of air
and ground strikes on militants and smuggling tunnels near the borders fence
with Gaza, killing at least ten Palestinians within the last 10 days.
ISRAEL TESTS HAMAS MILITARY
Reyad el-Astal, a professor of the Middle East studies at the Gaza-based
al-Azhar University told Xinhua that Israel "is deliberately trying to drag
Hamas into a new war in order to test its military abilities and to see how
strong the movement is one year after the end of the Cast Lead war."
On Thursday, Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas
movement revealed new missiles it used during Israel's military operation last
year. It published on its website images of the weapons that it could secretly
smuggle to Gaza. The photos showed Tandem and RPG-29 anti-armor missiles.
Despite Hamas denial, Israel has accused the pro-Iran Islamic movement,
which seized control of Gaza in June 2007, of producing makeshift rockets, and
of seeking to get longer-range and more developed missiles through a network of
tunnels located under Gaza's southern border with Egypt.
"I believe that the current Israeli military escalation on the Gaza Strip
and the different statements of senior Israeli army officials published in the
Israeli media this week also aims at exerting pressure on Hamas to drag it for
carrying out retaliatory attacks in order to justify another war on Gaza," said
HAMAS ASKS MILITANTS NOT TO BE
Well-informed Palestinian sources in Gaza, who spoke on condition of
anonymity, told Xinhua that during the recent Israeli military escalation on
Gaza, Hamas leaders held a series of meetings and talks with leaders of
different groups in Gaza and urged them for restraint.
Minister of interior in the deposed government of Hamas in Gaza Fathi
Hammad had several times stated that there has been an agreement reached with
other Palestinian factions and militant groups to avoid firing rockets from Gaza
Strip at Israel "to preserve the highest interests of the Palestinians."
Spokesman of al-Qassam Brigades, better known as Abu Obeida had also stated
that "Hamas is not interested to get into wars against Israel," however, he
added "But if Israel launches a war against us, we know how to defend ourselves
and the Zionist enemy will receive more painful strikes."
The sources had also revealed that Hamas leaders asked the leaders of the
less-influential Islamic Jihad (Holy War) Organization in Gaza not to fire
rockets back at Israel after three militants of the group were killed in Israeli
airstrike east of the central Gaza Strip on Sunday.
MILITANTS YET TO FOLLOW HAMAS'
Spokesman of al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad armed wing, better known as
Abu Ahmed revealed in a press statement that the Palestinian armed wings in the
Gaza Strip, including his group, "are preparing themselves for the upcoming
confrontation with the Zionist enemy."
However, he said that "our response to the crime of killing our three
militants will be carried out in the proper time and place, adding "the
Palestinian armed resistance have painful weapons, but using these weapons
depends on the circumstances decided by the armed resistance leadership."
But Isam Shawar, a West Bank-based political analyst ruled out that Israel
would carry out another war similar to the Cast Lead military operation, adding
that "Israel wants to drag Hamas and other militant groups to respond in order
to target their political and military leaders and will avoid targeting
"All indications show that Israel is preparing for a big decisive strike
that will target a big number of political and military leaders of Hamas and
Islamic Jihad," Shawar told Xinhua. "I believe that Israel would avoid civilians
in order to lessen the world public opinion support with Gaza and with