Daily Israel Report

PA Terror Links Trying To ´Put Ball In Israel´s Court´

An Islamic Jihad terror leader in Gaza said Sunday Israel must satisfy terrorists' demand before terror gangs can agree to a "cooling down" period.
First Publish: 1/23/2005, 8:19 PM / Last Update: 1/23/2005, 8:44 PM

After two days of almost total quiet, terrorists have renewed anti-tank missile, rifle and mortar fire in Gaza. The number of attacks, while significantly less than in the past few weeks, serve as a reminder to Palestinian Authority president Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that he force Israel to fulfill its demands. Terror groups, including the Al-Aqsa Martyrs' Brigade which is a branch of Abu Mazen's ruling Fatah party, want Israel to free Arab prisoners and completely withdraw civilians and soldiers from Gaza.

"Our position is that the Israeli occupation should first commit itself to a ceasefire," said Hamas terrorist spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. "The movement confirmed its readiness to study this issue seriously but there can be no cooling down period without a price being paid" by Israel. The term "cease-fire" was not used and the organization categorically denied a statement earlier in the day by Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz that Hamas has agreed to a ceasefire.

"The "ball is now in Israel's Court," said Khaled al-Batsh, one of the Islamic Jihad leaders in Gaza. Accusing Mofaz of "trying to make problems" among Arab groups, he said any agreement is conditional on "the release of prisoners and an end to the assassinations and incursions."

Before leaving Gaza, Abu Mazen told reporters his meeting with the terrorists in Gaza was "positive" despite his previous declaration that he would not leave Gaza until there was a formal ceasefire. He also blamed Israel for not allowing freedom of movement of 1,000 PA police because of the closure of the Gush Katif crossing.

Since Saturday night, terrorists launched a shell at Neve Dekalim, planted a bomb next to Moshav Katif, and launched two anti-tank missiles against IDF troops in the same area. No one was injured, but several buildings were damaged.