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Israel tells Abbas ready to cease fire if Gaza militants stop rockets

English.news.cn   2012-11-19 22:46:24            

RAMALLAH, Nov. 19 (Xinhua) -- Israel is ready to stop its military operations in the Gaza Strip if Palestinian militant groups stop firing rockets out of the coastal enclave, Palestinian sources said Monday.

The sources said Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sent a verbal letter to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas informing him of this offer. Tony Blair, former British prime minister who represents the Quartet of Middle East mediators, delivered Netanyahu's message to Abbas when they met in the West Bank city of Ramallah on Monday.

But if Hamas, the Islamic militant group controlling Gaza, refuses to stop rocket attacks, Israel would expand Operation Pillar of Defense, which set off last Wednesday, warned Netanyahu, according to the sources.

Abbas told Blair that he would discuss the issue with Khaled Mashaal, the political chief of Hamas, who is currently visiting Egypt.

Turkey, Egypt and Qatar push for a ceasefire in Gaza, but sources said that Hamas demands Israel completely end restrictions on Gaza crossing points in exchange for a truce.

The violence flared up when Israel killed Wednesday the leader of Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Islamic Hamas movement.

The Israeli airstrikes in Gaza have killed more than 90 Palestinians, including over 20 children, and wounded as many as 700.

On Sunday, Israel killed 11 civilians, nine of whom were members of one family, in a single air strike on a house also in Gaza City. The raid was the deadliest since the beginning of the offensive last Wednesday.

Editor: Mu Xuequan
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