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Daily Israel Report

Haniyeh Says Terror Groups Are 'Positive' About Ceasefire

As the rocket fire continues, Hamas' Prime Minister says terrorists are willing to implement a ceasefire.
By Elad Benari
First Publish: 3/12/2012, 5:15 AM

Ismail Haniyeh
Ismail Haniyeh
Flash 90

As rockets, missiles and mortars continued to fly and hit communities in southern Israel on Sunday, Hamas once again said it was trying to bring about a ceasefire. There had been similar reports on Saturday night.

According to a report in the Bethlehem-based Ma’an news agency, Hamas’ Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that the terror groups in the coastal enclave had responded positively to his contacts with Egypt to halt escalating violence between Gaza and Israel.

Haniyeh was quoted in the report as having said that Egypt is “working around the clock” to halt the fighting.

The Gaza premier said the position of the Islamic Jihad and Popular Resistance Committees is “positive and responsible” after he made contact with Egypt to end the fighting.

The Egyptian ambassador to the Palestinian Authority confirmed to Ma’an on Sunday that his country was in touch with both sides to halt hostilities.

Yasser Othman was quoted as having said that Israel's offensive is “unjustifiable, and a breach to the truce sponsored by Egypt.”

Meanwhile, Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum indicated the movement is disappointed with international efforts to stop the fighting.

Ma’an reported that Barhoum said in a statement that Hamas views the response from the Arab and international world to be unequal to Israel's violations.

Kol Yisrael radio reported on Sunday night that Israel had agreed to stop striking terror targets as of midnight (Israel time). However, that report was based on an Egyptian source and was unconfirmed by the IDF. The IAF struck terror targets in Gaza overnight Sunday.

The report noted that more than 50 missiles were fired on southern Israel Sunday, several of them intercepted by the Iron Dome system, which automatically weeds out missiles that are aimed at open areas, but is not foolproof.

One of the missiles from Gaza struck the courtyard of an empty school in Be’er Sheva. Another rocket damaged 15 houses. The city’s order to close all schools saved possible mass casualties.

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visited southern Israel on Sunday to see local defense systems close-up, and to show his support.

“My guideline is as follows: to strike anyone who plans to harm us,” Netanyahu said, adding, “The IDF is dealing heavy blows to terror organizations.”