Palestinians reject calls to dismantle Hamas

The Palestinian Authority rejected on Thursday calls from US President George Bush to dismantle Hamas and other resistance groups, amid reports that Palestinians could announce a truce.

    Hamas spearheads the uprising
    against Israel's occupation

    Palestinian leaders said any attempt to dismantle factions spearheading the intifada or uprising against Israel’s occupation would ignite a Palestinian civil war.

    “The talk about dismantling factions is a flagrant call for a civil war that is rejected by the Palestinian people, the Palestinian Authority and by the factions, and it will never happen,” said senior aide to Palestinian President Yasser Arafat, Ahmad Adil Rahman.

    US calls for crackdown

    At an European Union-United States summit in Washington on Wednesday, Bush called for a crackdown on resistance movements, claiming they were “enemies of peace”.

    The Islamic Jihad movement criticized Bush’s speech, saying it was aimed at giving Israel the green light to carry out more attacks.

    “This is a provocative declaration and a green light (to Israel) to continue its assassinations, air strikes, raids and crimes,” said Islamic Jihad official Mohammad al-Hindi.

    His comments came a day after Israeli helicopters torpedoed missiles at a car in the occupied Gaza Strip, killing two civilians, including a woman.

    Meanwhile, Arafat said he expected resistance groups on Thursday to announce a ceasefire in resistance attacks against Israel.

    But al-Hindi said a truce announcement may be made within the next few days and not within hours. The Islamic Jihad leader said the group is still waiting for a response from its members on the ground and in Israeli jails. 

    Israel has rejected the idea of a temporary ceasefire, claiming it would give activists it has been targeting a chance to re-group.

    EU dismisses US calls

    In the international community, the European Union said on Thursday it needs no lessons from Bush on tackling so-called "terrorist" groups.

    European Commission spokewoman Emma Udwin said the 15-nation bloc did not need to hear a message from Bush in order to crackdown on "terrorist" groups.

    The EU does not consider Hamas' political wing to be a "terrorist" organisation, with France's Foreign Minister Dominique de Villepin describing the resistance group as a partner in the peace process.

    Washington does not distinguish between the group's armed wing and political arm.


    Homes demolished

    Israel detained almost 200
    Palestinians this week

    Two Palestinians were shot dead on Thursday by Israeli troops near the village of Baqa al-Gharbiya in the West Bank.

    Israeli sources said the two were trying to infiltrate into Israel.

    There has been no independent confirmation.

    Earlier, Israeli occupation forces swept through the Palestinian West Bank city of Jenin and surrounding towns.

    Aljazeera's correspondent reported that Israeli tanks demolished buildings in Jenin and nearby towns and detained seven Palestinian civilians.
    Israeli bulldozers also destroyed crops and infrastructure, in the latest incursions.

    The Israeli army said it had dynamited a West Bank home in the city of Hebron belonging to a Hamas activist.

    The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of Arafat’s Fatah movement, claimed responsibility for a strike near the Green Line which left one Israeli dead, in retaliation for Israel’s missile attack on Wednesday. 

    The incident took place in the village of Baqa al-Gharbiya, which straddles the demarcation line between Israel and the West Bank.

    The al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades member was wounded and captured. The group vowed to continue resistance attacks.


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