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Report: Hamas pulls back forces preventing rockets against Israel

Feb. 2, 2014 12:00 P.M. (Updated: Feb. 4, 2014 11:10 A.M.)
BETHLEHEM (Ma'an) -- The Hamas movement has allegedly pulled back hundreds of gunmen previously deployed along the borders with Israel in order to prevent other Palestinian factions from firing homemade rockets at Israeli towns, according to an Israeli report released on Sunday.

The Hebrew language news site Walla reported on Sunday that according to Palestinian sources Hamas had pulled back 600 gunmen who had been deployed in border areas to maintain a ceasefire with Israel by preventing gunmen from other militant factions from firing rockets.

The reported move comes a day after Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon threatened to launch attacks against the Gaza Strip if rockets continued to be launched towards the Israel, saying that they would pay a "heavy price."

Hamas' move gives other Palestinian factions a green light to fire rockets at Israeli targets across the border, according to Walla. The move allegedly came in response to an Israeli airstrike on Thursday.

The Walla report highlighted that Hamas is still exerting pressure on other Palestinian factions to maintain a ceasefire, which has been in place since it was brokered by Egypt after the last Israeli military offensive on the Gaza Strip in 2012, which killed around 170 Palestinians and injured thousands.

The report comes amid a major uptick in Israeli attacks on Gaza in recent weeks, which have injured dozens of civilians, as well as a number of incursions into border areas.

Additionally, Israeli forces have opened fire on numerous Palestinian protests in border areas, which Israel maintains as a "buffer zone" that has turned 17% of Gaza's total land area and 35% of its agricultural land into a no-go zone according to UNOCHA's 2010 statistics.

Palestinian militants, meanwhile, have fired an increased number of rockets toward Israel, which have all landed in unpopulated areas with no injuries reported.
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