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Islamic Jihad to end ceasefire if leader banned from Gaza

Dec. 9, 2012 7:38 P.M. (Updated: Dec. 11, 2012 12:19 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Islamic Jihad will not adhere to a Nov. 21 ceasefire deal to end recent violence in Gaza if the group's secretary-general is banned from entering the coastal enclave by Israel, a senior group official said Sunday.

"We had hoped that Dr. Shalah could have visited Gaza accompanied by Hamas leader Mashaal, but the Israeli occupier had a different opinion," Jihad official Khalid al-Batsh said during a public meeting in Gaza.

The Islamist movement will not accept the Egyptian-mediated truce deal as long as leader Ramadan Shalah is prevented from entering the Gaza Strip, al-Batsh added.

"We want Palestinian unity, national reconciliation and we want to see unity embodied when Shalah and the Palestinian Authority’s president Mahmoud Abbas visit the Gaza Strip along with all resistance factions," the official said.

"After that we will focus our efforts on our enemy."

Israel threatened to assassinate Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shalah if he enters the Gaza Strip, causing the party to reconsider a planned visit, sources said Thursday.

Egyptian authorities told Islamic Jihad that Israel rejected the visit and would target leader Ramadan Shalah and his deputy Ziad Nakhla if they went into Gaza, sources close to the discussions told Ma'an.

Israel launched an 8-day assault on Gaza that ended Nov. 21 with a ceasefire agreement mediated by Egypt.
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