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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.
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Publication:APS Diplomat Recorder
Date:Nov 5, 2005
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