"Dealing positively with this would lead to achieving ... calm and stability in the region, but if the occupation [Israel] wants to pursue its aggression, our people will have no choice but to stick to their right to defend themselves with the capabilities they have."

"If the occupation wants to pursue its aggression, our people will have no choice but to stick to their right to defend themselves"

Ismail Haniya, Palestinian prime minister

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Palestinian factions in Gaza late on Thursday had offered to stop firing rockets if Israel halted military action in Gaza and the occupied West Bank. Israel had rejected that offer.

As Haniya spoke, Israeli forces pressed ahead with an offensive into Gaza that they said was intended to prevent Palestinians from launching rockets at Israeli cities.

During the offensive, Israeli forces killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy and a Palestinian fighter in Gaza, hospital officials said.

Israel rejects offer

Miri Eisin, an Israeli government spokeswoman, said: "If the Palestinian terror factions, Hamas, Islamic Jihad, stop terror activities from the Gaza Strip, Israel would have no reason or incentive to operate in Gaza."

Haniya said that if Israel accepted the terms for a truce over the rocket fire that the five Palestinian groups had agreed upon, more armed factions could accept the deal as well.

But soon after he made his comments, the Popular Resistance Committees said that its fighters in Gaza had fired two rockets towards Israel.

It said that the rockets were fired to avenge the death of three of its fighters, including a senior commander, on Tuesday.

Israel began its latest offensive in June soon after Palestinians in Gaza captured an Israeli soldier in a cross-border raid in June.

Since then Israel has killed nearly 400 Palestinians, half of them civilians, during its assault. Three Israelis have also died.