Published December 23, 2010
| Associated Press
GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip – A Hamas strongman in Gaza says the militant group doesn't want an escalation in fighting with Israel despite a rise in violence in recent weeks.
Mahmoud Zahar says Hamas is "committed to the calm" that has largely held since Israel's punishing military incursion in Gaza nearly two years ago.
But there has been an uptick in rocket and mortar fire into Israel and Israeli military airstrikes on Gaza recently.
Zahar insists the unofficial cease-fire is not a sign of weakness. He spoke to thousands of supporters after Friday prayers in the southern Gaza town of Khan Yunis.
Zahar also hinted that Hamas was using it to rearm and reorganize, and criticized rivals in the Palestinian Authority for new arrests of Hamas members in the West Bank.