Gaza extinguisher - AP - 16.3.12
A Palestinian tries to extinguish a fire after an Israeli airstrike in Rafah, southern Gaza Strip, Saturday, March 10, 2012. Photo by AP
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The Islamic Jihad will continue to respect the ceasefire with Israel, but will retaliate if Israel strikes first, a senior figure in the organization's political wing told Palestinian news agency Ma'an on Thursday.

The official, Ahmad al-Mudallal, was referring to an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militant groups in Gaza which has been in effect since early Tuesday morning.

Despite continued sporadic exchanges of fire between the two sides, the ceasefire has largely managed to reduce the level of violence. None of the Palestinian groups in Gaza has taken credit for rocket attacks launched since the ceasefire was announced.

Al-Mudallal told Ma'an his organization had agreed to the ceasefire after Egyptian mediators promised that Israel would stop killing its militants. He said his organization has lost "over a dozen" militants during the current round of fighting.

"We don’t trust the occupation but we trust our steadfastness and resistance. We cannot be quiet during any aggression on the Palestinian people," al-Mudallal said. "The resistance is ready to respond to any Israeli attacks."

Meanwhile, acting speaker of the Palestinian parliament Ahmad Bahar said Israel was not interested in a ceasefire and urged a united response by all factions to Israeli "aggression."