PALESTINE - Oct 30 - A Pledge By Islamic Jihad.
The Palestinian faction Islamic Jihad says it will stop firing
rockets from the Gaza Strip into Israel, which could help end a week of
violence. Islamic Jihad made its pledge conditional on a halt in Israeli
air raids and other military operations against Palestinian factions.
Israel said last week that it would wage a sustained campaign against
Islamic Jihad, particularly in the West Bank, in response to a suicide
bombing that killed five Israelis on Nov 2. After the Islamic Jihad
announcement on Nov 30, an Israeli official said that Israel continued
to face threats from the group, which it calls a terrorist organisation.
"We are not partner to any agreement between various terror groups
and the Palestinian Authority", said Raanan Gissin, a spokesman for
the Israeli PM, Ariel Sharon. "We deal only with the Palestinian
Authority". Gissin repeated Israel's call for the Palestinian
leadership to crack down on Islamic Jihad and other armed factions.
Khaled al-Batsh, a senior Islamic Jihad leader in Gaza, said the faction
had been talking with the PA and had agreed to cease rocket attacks if
Israel stopped military forays. "We are calling for a mutual calm
between us and the Zionist enemy", Batsh said, referring to Israel.
Since the Israeli and the Palestinian leaders announced a truce in
February, it has been violated with regularity. The past week has
included some of the worst bloodshed in recent months. Israeli ground
troops killed an Islamic Jihad leader during a West Bank raid on Oct.
23. Three days later, Islamic Jihad carried out the suicide bombing that
killed five Israelis at an outdoor market in the coastal town of Hadera.
In Gaza, Islamic Jihad fired rockets into southern Israel, while Israel
carried out air strikes that killed nine Palestinians, with both
militants and civilians among the dead, according to Palestinians. Three
suicide bombers dispatched by Islamic Jihad from the northern West Bank
have accounted for all 15 of the Israeli civilians killed in such
bombings this year.