Ma'an News Agency
January 13, 2011 - 1:00am

Spokesperson for the Palestinian security services in the Major General Adnan Dmeiri criticized Hamas on Wednesday, saying its leaders were adopting a two-faced and inconsistent policy, by calling for calm in Gaza and "escalating conditions" in the West Bank.

"Israel gets a free-of-charge calm," Dmeiri said, referring to a series of urgent talks the party held with militant groups on Wednesday to pass on a warning from Arab leaders about firing rockets at Israel.

The meeting at a Gaza City hotel came just days after Hamas said it would ensure militant factions obeyed a national consensus truce on rocket fire, following weeks of rising tensions along the border with Israel.

Among those invited were members of Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups.

"Hamas asked us to this meeting at the Al-Quds Hotel in Gaza; they said it was urgent," one militant leader told said on condition of anonymity, saying the gathering had been called by Hamas officials Mahmoud Zahar, Khalil Al-Haya and Ayman Taha.

In its insistence that factions refrain from firing projectiles at Israel, Dmeiri said, Hamas is giving them something without getting anything in return.

"Hamas considers calm an accomplishment in Gaza, but a crime in the West Bank," the official said in a statement, accusing the party of stepping up work against the Palestinian Authority with one hand, just as it deescalates in Gaza.

He said the move was one trying to evade national conciliation.

As Hamas officials in the West Bank remain angry over the detention of five members, released one week ago by PA officials holding them on "security grounds" and detained by Israeli forces only hours later, in Gaza, efforts are being made to ensure resistance activities cannot be used by Israel as an excuse to launch a large-scale offensive on the region.

"Hamas received a message from Egypt and other parties, some of them Arab, telling them that the situation along the Gaza border is very dangerous, and that Israel might start another war if the firing of rockets continues, especially Grads," he said, referring to a Soviet-designed rocket with a range of up to 40 kilometers.

Faaleh Ziddan, a DFLP leader involved in the talks, told AFP he was also warned of the danger of a new war during a meeting on Tuesday with two aides to Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.

"They told me they are very worried about the escalation in Gaza and that Israel might use the Palestinian rockets as a reason for a new war," he said.

What was needed was a "national understanding" so as to not give Israel any reason to launch a war, he said.

"The situation is very dangerous now -- there is no trust with Israel. This meeting will discuss how to deny Israel a reason to launch the war, and how to create calm in the field."

After Wednesday's meeting, a Hamas representative read a statement on behalf of all groups that attended, reaffirming "the right to resist the Israeli occupation, including by national consensus."

This was a reference to maintaining the truce announced by Hamas in January 2009 after Israel's "Operation Cast Lead" against Gaza. The truce has been largely respected by Hamas but not by other militant groups.

Khalil Al-Haya, a Hamas political leader, spoke of "a period of calm," and demanded that this also be observed by Israel.

The statement also expressed alarm at "plans by the Israeli occupation to carry out a huge massacre," and called on "the international community and the Arab League to prevent this."

Witnesses said later on Wednesday that Hamas forces had deployed east of Gaza City near the border with Israel.

Khaled Al-Batsh, a leader of the radical Islamic Jihad group, said his organization would "respect the national consensus considering greater Palestinian interests", implying it would not initiate attacks on Israel.

But he also underlined "the right of self-defense against aggression."

The warning and subsequent meetings followed statements by Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, who said Tuesday, "I recommend they don't test us ... if the shooting at Israel continues, the other side will suffer more hits. We're planning to keep fighting for the [Gaza] fence."

Israel controls a 300-1,000 meter no-go zone around the Gaza/Israel border, which it says is used by militants to launch attacks at Israel.

The swath of land, UN officials say, takes up 20 percent of Gaza's farm land, and renders it inaccessible. Gaza resistance factions see Israeli operations in that area as an act of aggression, and demands that Israel completely withdraw from the area.

Barak mentioned that "one can see the escalation in activity at the Gaza strip". However he did say there are also success stories: "Today was probably successful, but I don't wish to elaborate on that. There will be more success stories in the future."

In recent weeks, Gaza militants have fired scores of rockets into the Jewish state, prompting a flurry of retaliatory air strikes and raising fears of another massive operation along the lines of the 2008-9 war.

The 22-day war, which ended in a ceasefire on January 18, 2009, killed 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.


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