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Islamic Jihad: Israeli escalation aims to sabotage reconciliation

Jan. 9, 2014 6:33 P.M. (Updated: Jan. 10, 2014 9:27 P.M.)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- Islamic Jihad leader Ahmad Mudallal said Israel's recent escalation in the Gaza Strip aims to sabotage plans for national reconciliation.

Mudallal told Ma'an that Israel is waging a war of attrition against Palestinian resistance groups, especially Islamic Jihad, which Israel views as one of the most dangerous Palestinian factions.

He said Israel wants to break the spirit of resistance in order to impose its will on Palestinians.

Earlier Thursday, three Palestinians were injured after an Israeli airstrike targeted the southern Gaza Strip, medical officials said.

An Israeli army spokeswoman said "earlier this morning three mortars were fired from Gaza at Israeli forces operating adjacent to the security fence in southern Gaza. An hour later, the IDF targeted terrorists in Gaza who were identified as preparing to fire rockets at Israel."

The military wings of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine claimed responsibility for firing mortar shells at Israeli military targets on Thursday.

On Wednesday, Palestinian medical sources said man was killed on in the al-Shujaiyeh neighborhood of Gaza City by an Israeli drone strike.

The Israeli army denied involvement.

Violent incidents at the Gaza-Israel border along with Israeli airstrikes have been a frequent occurrence throughout the last two weeks, after an upheaval of violence killed an Israeli Civil Defense employee and a Palestinian toddler on Dec. 24.

Both Fatah and Hamas have recently spoken of an increased desire for reconciliation between the Hamas-run government in the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-led government in the West Bank.

Fatah's reconciliation team proposed a national unity plan to Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Tuesday, a Fatah spokesman said.

The proposal came as Hamas released seven Fatah prisoners who were in Gaza jails for "security reasons."

On Monday, AFP quoted Haniyeh as saying that "the (Hamas) government will allow all Fatah members who are from Gaza and who left the Strip (in 2007) to return, without any preconditions," apart from those accused of killing Hamas members during intense factional fighting that year.

The division between the two Palestinian factions began in 2006, when Hamas won the Palestinian legislative elections.

In the following year, clashes erupted between Fatah and Hamas, leaving Hamas in control of the Strip and Fatah in control of parts of the occupied West Bank.

The groups have made failed attempts at national reconciliation for years, most recently in 2012, when they signed two agreements -- one in Cairo and a subsequent one in Doha -- which have as of yet been entirely unimplemented.
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