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Hamas Proposes New Ceasefire

The Islamic militant group Hamas suggests it might be ready to resume an unofficial cease-fire with Israel.  Hamas also says it might ask other Palestinian militant groups to suspend rocket attacks against targets in southern Israel. 

After a week of almost non-stop rocket attacks by Palestinian militants against targets in southern Israel, and retaliatory air and artillery strikes by Israel, tensions eased a bit after Hamas spokesman Ghazi Hamed said Hamas wants a resumption of a ceasefire with Israel.

Hamed's call came shortly after the militant group Islamic Jihad launched at least five rockets into Israel, wounding three Israelis and damaging a factory building in the town of Sderot. 

Speaking in Hebrew on Israeli radio, Hamed says the cease-fire proposal comes from the highest levels in Hamas.

The Hamas spokesman says Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh supports a ceasefire and that Hamas is willing to talk with other Palestinian factions about suspending the rocket attacks.  But Hamed says before any ceasefire can be resumed, Israel must stop military activity in the West Bank and Gaza Strip.

Israeli officials have not responded to the Hamas suggestion. 

The Hamas proposal came as a senior Israeli defense official, Major General Amos Gilad, told Israeli Radio that senior Hamas officials could be targeted for assassination if the rocket attacks did not stop.

The Israeli general says Israel's message to the Hamas leadership was effective, because there has been a reduction in rocket fire against Israeli targets. 

Hamas called off its 16-month ceasefire last week after a Palestinian family was killed in an explosion on a Gaza Beach.  An Israeli investigation into the blast says it was probably caused by a Palestinian-planted mine designed to deter Israeli commandos.

An independent investigation into the incident conducted by the New York-based organization Human Rights Watch concluded the Palestinians were probably killed by Israeli artillery fire.

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