05/09/2006, 00.00
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Haniyeh calls for rocket attacks against Israel to stop

The prime minister of Hamas justified the demand made to Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee by voicing fears that Israel may decide to send ground troops to the Gaza Strip to stop the Qassam attacks.

Jerusalem (AsiaNews) – The prime minister of the Palestinian Hamas government, Ismail Haniyeh, has asked Jihad and the Popular Resistance Committee to suspend Qassam rocket fire against Israel, according to "reliable sources" of Hamas. The sources were quoted today in the Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth.

The sources said Haniyeh justified his plea to representatives of both organisations by citing fear that Israel may decide to send ground troops into the Gaza Strip to stop the rocket attacks. Further, as happened yesterday, Israeli artillery bombings seek to strike the bases the rockets are fired from, and this harms Palestinian interests.

Haniyeh has already publicly condemned attacks with Qassam rockets that are locally hand made. But the Palestinian government has yet to take any measures to stop the attacks. On the contrary, the Hamas spokesman has repeatedly said "Qassam attacks are a natural response to Israeli aggression."

In reality, if Qassam rockets launched from Gaza manage to hit the power station in Ashkelon, which produces a quarter of the country's power supply, it is likely that the Israeli reaction would take shape as a massive attack against the Gaza Strip. The Palestinians have already been warned many times, through several intermediaries, that this scenario would turn out to be very costly for them. But once again, eight rockets were fired towards the southern part of Ashkelon yesterday, where the power station is situated and the Islamic Jihand claimed responsibility for the attack.

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