Armed groups to limit projectile fire 21Nov09 November 22, 2009

Ma’an News Agency -  21 November 2009

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Armed Palestinian groups in Gaza have reached an agreement to stop firing homemade projectiles into Israel except during army incursions, de facto Interior Minister Fathi Hammad said on Saturday.

“We don’t prohibit resistance except when there is a national consensus for ceasefire, like after the last Israeli war against the Gaza Strip,” he told a group of journalists.

Hammad added that his ministry stays in contact with military factions before making any decision, and has held several evaluative meetings to discuss the matter, coming to the conclusion that factions should restrain themselves except in the event of an Israeli incursion.

It was not clear when the supposed ban was set to begin. A projectile fired from Gaza reportedly struck southern Israel on Saturday morning, according to Israeli media.

At the meeting in Gaza City, Hammad highlighted that 60 police buildings were bombed in the Israeli assault last winter. He said some 350 security officers were killed, including his predecessor, Sa’id Siyam.

As for allegations his government arrests people based on political affiliation, he insisted that “there isn’t a single prisoner left in custody for his political affiliation. We are not detaining any Fatah-affiliated prisoners, except for a few held by prosecution for domestic assault.”

In regard to a crackdown on a small group of religious extremists in Rafah over the summer – a response viewed by human rights groups as disproportionate – Hammad said of the 180 suspects originally detained, only 35 remained in jail. The remaining 35 members of Jund Ansar Allah could also be released on the occasion of the Muslim Eid Al-Adha holiday, he said.

Also addressed in the meeting was Gaza’s new police academy, which Hammad said began operations with 150 students, and stated that the ministry’s employees are selected on the basis of professional eligibility from a pool of highly educated applicants.

Hammad touched upon a number of other issues like crime, which he said was down noticeably. He also said no one was living in President Mahmoud Abbas’ Gaza residence.


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