GAZA CITY, Gaza Strip, (AP) – The Islamic militant group Hamas on Sunday called for new attacks on Israel after eight Palestinians were killed in a surge of fighting over the weekend.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum urged Palestinians to be prepared for a new round of confrontation.
“The blood of our people is not cheap,” he said in a statement faxed to The Associated Press. “Therefore we are calling on … (Hamas’ armed wing) and the Palestinian resistance groups to be united in the trench of resistance and to use all possible means of resistance and to respond to the massacres.”
Eight Palestinians were killed during a 24-hour surge in violence in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, including two militants killed early Sunday during an arrest raid in the West Bank city of Nablus. The fighting also included a Palestinian rocket attack on the southern Israeli town of Sderot that damaged one home but caused no injuries.
The violence has threatened a cease-fire declared last November between Israel and Palestinian militants in Gaza. Palestinian officials have also said it jeopardized their efforts to expand the truce to the West Bank.
The Palestinian unity government, which includes Hamas, has called for an expanded truce. Hamas officials in the government have tried to separate themselves from pronouncements by the group’s military wing. Israel considers Hamas in all its forms to be a terrorist group.
Ghazi Hamad, spokesman for Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh of Hamas, declined to comment on the Hamas statement issued Sunday, saying he had not yet read it.
But he said the government “condemns the ugly massacres and crimes that reflect Israel’s policy of military aggression.”
He said the fighting proved that Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert “is misleading the public when he talks about his willingness to have a peaceful settlement” with the Palestinians.