Hamas: Israel 'truce will be met with a truce'

AFP , Sunday 10 Apr 2011

Hamas leader says it will not stop lunching rockets, if Israel does not stop lunching air-strikes on Gaza

Hamas is willing to commit to a truce with Israel if Tel Aviv stops attacks on the Gaza Strip, a spokesman for the Islamist group told AFP on Sunday.

"The ball is in the court of the occupation," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said. "Our message to the occupation is that a truce will be met with a truce."

Abu Zuhri's comments came after Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak said Israel would consider a ceasefire if Gaza's militant groups halted a barrage of rockets directed at the Jewish state.

"If they cease firing we'll cease firing," he said. "We cannot tolerate firing" against Israel and "we will act along the lines of what happens on the ground," Barak added.

It was the first time that an Israeli minister had envisaged a ceasefire since deadly clashes with the Palestinians broke out following an anti-tank attack on an Israeli school bus on Thursday.

The attack was followed by a string of retaliatory Israeli air raids and dozens of rockets fired by Palestinian militant groups into southern Israel.

At least 18 Palestinians have been killed in the confrontation, the deadliest since Israel's 2008-2009 war on the coastal enclave.

Abu Zuhri said Sunday that Hamas was not trying to increase tensions with Israel, but defended the actions of the Islamist group and other militant organisations in Gaza.

"We are not interested in escalation and the Palestinian factions are defending themselves and the Palestinian people in the face of Israeli escalation," he said.

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