Monday, 12 November 2012

Gaza militants signal truce with Israel after rockets


(Reuters) - Palestinian militants indicated they were ready for a truce with Israel on Monday to defuse a growing crisis after four days of rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip into the south of the Jewish state.

There was no immediate response from Israel which has warned it is ready to ramp up its air strikes and shelling if the rockets do not cease.

Leaders of Hamas, the Islamist faction that controls Gaza, met with Islamic Jihad and other groups on Monday night and said they would respond according to the way Israel acted - a formulation used in previous flare-ups to offer a ceasefire.

"If (Israel) is interested in calm they should stop the aggression," Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas told Reuters.

The Palestinian people were acting in self-defence, he said.

"The ball is in Israel's court. The resistance factions will observe Israel's behaviour on the ground and will act accordingly," said Khaled Al-Batsh of the Islamic Jihad group.

Throughout the day, Israel warned it was ready for stronger action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened foreign ambassadors in what an apparent move to pre-empt international censure should Israel, whose 2008-2009 Gaza offensive exacted a high civilian toll, again go in hard. more

Gaza factions meet over Israeli threats of 'escalation within a few hours'


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Palestinian factions met on Monday in Gaza City to discuss Israeli attacks and threats of a wider operation in the enclave.

Hamas called the meeting to try and avoid further casualties after Israeli forces killed six Palestinians in Gaza since Saturday, said Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine leader Talal Abu Tharefa.

Abu Tharefa told Ma'an any truce with Israel must include an end to Israeli airstrikes and attacks, adding that the Palestinian resistance would retain the right to respond to Israeli aggression.

Top-selling Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth said Monday that the United States had given a green light for an Israeli operation in Gaza.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened foreign ambassadors in what appeared to be an attempt to pre-empt international censure should Israel, whose 2008-2009 Gaza offensive exacted a costly civilian toll, again go in hard.

Netanyahu briefed the envoys in Ashkelon, a port city within range of some Palestinian rockets. "None of their governments would accept a situation like this," he said.

Environment Minister Gilad Erdan, an influential member of Netanyahu's Likud party, said the briefing was meant to prepare world opinion for "what is about to happen," adding there might be a major Israeli escalation within a few hours. more

Obama pressures Abbas to drop Palestine statehood bid at UN


President Obama called Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas Sunday, asking him to back off a Palestinian push for statehood at the United Nations.

"In his discussion with President Abbas, President Obama reaffirmed his commitment to Middle East peace and his strong support for direct negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians with the objective of two states living side by side in peace and security. He also reiterated the United States' opposition to unilateral efforts at the United Nations," the White House said in a statement.

Palestinian leaders have been pushing for recognition as an observer state member at the United Nations since 2011. more

Israel launches multiple airstrikes on Gaza, no injuries


GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Israel launched multiple airstrikes on the Gaza Strip overnight Sunday, with no injuries reported, Ma'an's correspondent and the Israeli army said.

Fighter jets targeted two open areas in the northern Gaza Strip and a third strike landed in another open area near Rafah, Ma'an's reporter said.

Israel's army said it targeted "a terror tunnel and a weapon storage facility in the northern Gaza Strip, as well as a launching site in the southern Gaza Strip," in response to rocket fire.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said one rocket had been fired overnight, with no injuries reported. The rocket struck a home in the town of Netivot, causing material damage.

Islamist militant faction the Shura Council of Mujahideen claimed responsibility for the rocket, with Israeli officials warning of a tough response.

"We have a full box of tools ... that we have not yet used," Israeli Vice Prime Minister Moshe Yaalon told Army Radio. "We will need to toughen our response until Hamas says 'enough' and ends the fire." more