Hamas restrains from another war with Israel in Gaza
www.chinaview.cn 2010-01-11 20:44:29   Print

    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 ABILITIES

    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 el-Astal.

    HAMAS ASKS MILITANTS NOT TO BE PROVOKED

    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' ADVICE

    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 civilians."

    "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 Hamas."

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