Hamas police, AP, 2007
Hamas police in Gaza in 2007. Photo by AP
Text size

Palestinian militant groups have joined forces to step up attacks against Israel, possibly including suicide bombings, the Hamas Islamist faction said on Thursday, after Palestinian and Israeli leaders launched direct peace negotiations in Washington.

A spokesman for Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said some 13 militant groups had joined forces to launch "more effective attacks" against Israel. Asked if this included suicide bombings, he said: "All options are open."

The declaration came hours after Palestinian Authority security forces detained two men in the West Bank suspected of involvement in a deadly shooting attack in which four Israelis were killed earlier this week.

The four were traveling in a car on route 60 late Tuesday when assailants opened fire at them. Following the incident, Palestinian security forces in the West Bank carried out one of the largest arrest sweeps in history, bringing in over 300 suspects in efforts to locate the culprits.

On Wednesday, one day after the deadly shooting attack, assailants once again opened fire at an Israeli vehicle at Rimonim Junction, east of Ramallah. Two people were wounded in the attack.

On Thursday evening, a 12-year-old Israeli girl was moderately wounded when assailants hurled rocks at a car she was traveling in near the West Bank settlement of Ariel.

The spate of attacks coincided with the launch of U.S.-backed direct peace talks between Israel and the Palestinians in Washington. Hamas have come out vocally against the talks, claiming responsibility for the shooting attacks and warning of further attacks.