x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Arab leaders warn militants over Israel bombardment

Hamas was holding "urgent" talks with militant groups on Wednesday to pass on a warning from Arab leaders about firing rockets at Israel, a faction leader told AFP.

GAZA CITY // Hamas was holding "urgent" talks with militant groups on Wednesday to pass on a warning from Arab leaders about firing rockets at Israel, a faction leader told AFP.

The meeting was taking place at a Gaza City hotel just days after Hamas said it would ensure militant factions obeyed a national consensus truce on rocket fire, following weeks of rising tensions along the border with Israel.

Among those invited were members of Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP), the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) and other groups involved in the resistance committee, the source said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"Hamas asked us to this meeting at the Al-Quds Hotel in Gaza; they said it was urgent," he said, adding that it was called by senior Hamas officials Mahmud Zahar, Khalil al-Haya and Ayman Taha.

"Hamas received a message from Egypt and other parties, some of them Arab, telling them that the situation along the Gaza border is very dangerous, and that Israel might start another war if the firing of rockets continues, especially Grads," he said, referring to a Soviet-designed rocket with a range of up to 40 kilometres (24 miles).

In recent weeks, Gaza militants have fired scores of rockets into Israel, prompting a flurry of retaliatory air strikes and raising fears that the Jewish state would launch another massive operation along the lines of the 2008-9 war.

The truce was announced at the end of "Operation Cast Lead" in January 2009 and has been largely respected by Hamas but not by other militant groups.

The 22-day war, which ended in a ceasefire on January 18, killed 1,400 Palestinians, more than half of them civilians, and 13 Israelis, 10 of them soldiers.