Israel reportedly has offered the militant organization Hamas a limited cease-fire in the Gaza Strip, the latest initiative to stop rocket attacks on Israeli settlements along the border.
Sources told the London-based pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat that Israel has proposed a temporary truce in Gaza that does not include the West Bank, the Israeli newspaper Haaretz reported. One of the terms of the proposal reportedly includes more Israeli flexibility on border crossings in exchange for Hamas militants halting their rocket attacks.
The offer, which has also been extended to the Islamic Jihad militant group, is likely to be accepted by Hamas, Haaretz reported.
The Israeli Defense Forces last week reported that Hamas was behind the recent surge in rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip against border settlements.
The IDF report said that while Islamic Jihad was behind the attacks, Hamas had to be held accountable since it has proven in the past that it has been able to stop the attacks, but so far has not done so.
Hamas, meanwhile, found itself at odds with Al Qaeda last weekend after the terrorist organization's second in command, Ayman al-Zawahiri, said Hamas' rocket attacks randomly kill women and children in violation of Islamic law.
"Hamas doesn't mean to kill children with its rockets," party spokesman Ismail Radwan told reporters in the Gaza Strip in response to al-Zawahiri's claim.
Radwan added that "the ongoing conflict between Israel and the Palestinians may involve some killing of children," but he accused the Israeli army of "deliberately killing children, women and destroying houses and mosques."
Hamas is the largest and most influential Palestinian militant movement, winning the Palestinian Authority's general legislative elections in 2006, defeating Fatah, the party of the PA's president, Mahmoud Abbas, whose party governs the West Bank.
Hamas also is listed by the U.S. State Department as a terrorist organization, credited with planning and executing numerous homicide bombings against Israeli civilians. The State Department also cites Iran and Saudi Arabia for their support of the organization.
Abbas, meanwhile, told the Jerusalem Post on Monday that peace discussions would be on the table during his upcoming visits to the U.S. and Russia.
“We want to talk with the Americans and the Russians about the future and on moving the peace process forward,” Abbas told the Post. “With the Russians we will mostly talk about the (proposed) Moscow summit.”