Herzliya - With Hamas signaling it is willing to enter a cease-fire with Israel, it was the U.S.-backed Fatah party of Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas whose so-called military wing took responsibility for a barrage of rockets and mortars fired from the Gaza Strip today.
Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades called WND and also released an official pamphlet to take credit for firing at least five rockets and four mortars today, lightly wounding two Israeli soldiers and one civilian. Also taking responsibility was a cell claiming it was working on behalf of the Iranian-backed, Hamas-allied Islamic Jihad terrorist organization.
Contacted by WND, the leadership of Islamic Jihad in both Gaza and the West Bank were not aware their group launched any rockets.
The claimed results of an immediate investigation launched by both Hamas and Islamic Jihad were shared with WND. The probe found the Islamic Jihad rockets were actually fired by Fatah.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad sources explained that when Hamas took over Gaza from its Fatah rivals in 2007, about 100 members of Fatah's Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades joined Islamic Jihad, and it was those members who launched today's attacks.
Hamas has demanded Islamic Jihad immediately clamp down on the Fatah members within its ranks, prompting some tension between the two allies.
A top member of Hamas' so-called military wing told WND today the Fatah members who shot today's rockets will be dealt with harshly, hinting they may even be killed.
"If we catch them, I think they will not live to see the light of day," he said.
Earlier today, the Al-Arabiya television network quoted Hamas sources stating the group has accepted an Egyptian proposal for a year-long truce with Israel in Gaza starting on Thursday. The report said Hamas agreed to an international mechanism along the Egypt-Gaza border that includes members of Fatah, as long as those Fatah members coordinate their activities with Hamas.
One of Israel's main goals for its offensive was to halt Hamas' ability to smuggle weapons across the Egypt-Gaza border. Previous international monitors stationed along the Egypt-Gaza border fled their duty and repeatedly failed to stem Hamas' weapons smuggling. The monitors were stationed at the border following Israel's 2005 evacuation of the Gaza Strip.
Hamas in 2007 seized control of Gaza from Fatah, taking over all U.S.-backed security compounds in the territory. Top diplomatic sources in Jerusalem told WND last month Abbas and his top representatives had waged a quiet campaign for months asking the Israeli government to target Hamas in Gaza just before the PA president's term in office expired Jan. 9.
Hamas leaders repeatedly had warned they would not recognize Abbas after Jan. 9 and that they would launch a major campaign to delegitimize the PA president and install their own figures to lead the Palestinian government. Abbas used the violence to declare an emergency government that will keep him in office at last another year.