Hamas: Continued rocket fire by Fatah armed group harms Palestinian interests
The Hamas government in the Gaza Strip lashed out at rival militants after two Qassam rockets were fired at southern Israel yesterday, causing no injuries but further straining the shaky truce between Israel and Hamas that went into effect last Thursday morning.
In view of the continued rocket fire, Israel will keep the crossings into the Gaza Strip closed today, for the third straight day.
The Fatah-affiliated group Al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigade claimed responsibility for yesterday's rocket fire and demanded that the cease-fire be extended into the West Bank.
In a statement carried by the official Palestinian news agency Maan, Hamas warned the militant factions against violating the terms of the cease-fire with Israel, saying such violations harmed the Palestinian national interest. Hamas also threatened to take measures against the violators.
A Hamas spokesman said the truce was a national Palestinian interest and that anyone who tried to sabotage it was acting in an "anti-national" way. He called on Egypt, which brokered the cease-fire agreement, to talk to those factions that are "motivated by anti-national politics."
The Hamas government spokesman added that harming the national interest for the purpose of settling personal scores "works to advance the interests of the Israeli occupation."
The attack yesterday - one Qassam landed near Kibbutz Gevim in the Negev, the other fell in an open area - was the second time rocket fire had violated the week-long cease-fire. Three rockets were launched at Israel on Tuesday by Islamic Jihad, and a mortar shell was fired earlier this week.
Islamic Jihad has since announced that it has agreed with Hamas to adhere to the terms of the truce, even if Israel does not.
Israel responded to Tuesday's attack by closing cargo crossings into the Strip. The crossings remained closed yesterday, following a decision reached in consultation between Deputy Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and military and intelligence officials.
At a situation assessment held yesterday at the Tel Aviv office of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, it was decided to keep the crossings closed today as well, in view of the continued rocket fire.
The impression within the defense establishment is that Hamas is making an effort to continue holding its fire, but that other groups in the Gaza Strip are trying to bring about the collapse of the cease-fire.
Meanwhile, in the West Bank yesterday, some 200 Israeli peace activists and Palestinians from Na'alin, west of Ramallah, demonstrated against the construction of the separation barrier along its current route. Protesters threw rocks at Israeli soldiers and Border Police officers, who used crowd-control measures. One police officer and one soldier were slightly hurt. Demonstrators claimed that 14 protesters were injured by rubber bullets and tear gas.
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