Gaza militants agree to halt rocket fire

AP News
Posted: Nov 21, 2009 1:13 PM

Hamas announced Saturday evening that it has reached an agreement with other militant groups in Gaza to stop firing rockets at southern Israeli towns to prevent retaliatory attacks.

Hamas has mostly refrained from firing rockets since January when Israel ended a three week offensive in Gaza aimed at stopping almost daily militant attacks.

Other Gaza militant groups have since continued with rocket attacks, but on a much smaller scale than before.

About 1,400 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, in the Israeli offensive according to U.N. and Palestinian estimates. Thirteen Israelis also were killed.

Hamas interior minister Fathi Hamad told reporters Saturday evening that all militant factions had now agreed to a cease fire.

He said the agreement was designed to prevent Israeli retaliation attacks and provide stability for Gaza residents. The cease fire would make it easier for Gaza residents to rebuild infrastructure destroyed in last winter's fighting, he said.

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A rocket launched from Gaza exploded in southern Israel Saturday morning causing no injuries. A small militant faction affiliated with al-Qaida claimed responsibility for the attack.