Palestinian mourners carry the body of 12-year-old schoolboy during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip
Palestinian mourners carry the body of 12-year-old schoolboy Ayoub Asalya, during his funeral in Jabalyia refugee camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The schoolboy was killed in an Israeli air raid. Egypt is trying to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza militants, Hamas said on Sunday, warning that the Jewish state would have to hold fire first for calm to return. © Mahmud Hams - AFP
Palestinian mourners carry the body of 12-year-old schoolboy during his funeral in the northern Gaza Strip
AFP
Last updated: March 11, 2012

Hamas: For Gaza truce, Israel must hold fire first

Egypt is trying to broker a truce between Israel and Gaza militants, Hamas said on Sunday, warning that the Jewish state would have to hold fire first for calm to return

"All the Palestinian factions have a positive position," Hamas spokesman Taher al-Nunu told AFP.

"But all of them say the Israeli aggression started this three days ago and before any talk about a truce, the Israeli side should stop."

Nunu spoke as Israeli warplanes carried out new air strikes in Gaza, bringing the death toll to 18 since Friday, as militant groups have fired nearly 130 rockets into southern Israel.

Egyptian officials, who have brokered numerous ceasefire agreements between Israel and Gaza militants in the past, were in constant contact in a bid to end the flare-up, he said.

"The Egyptian side is talking with us constantly, we appreciate their role and we hope that their role will succeed to end this aggression," he said.

"They accept our position that the Israeli side should stop their aggression first and we said clearly to them that if the Israeli side stops the aggression we will respond positively."

Earlier on Sunday, Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said efforts to restore the calm that preceded the latest violence were under way but cautioned that "until now there has been nothing productive."

A spokesman for Islamic Jihad, which claims to have fired more than 90 rockets across the border since losing 10 of its militants in the Israeli strikes, said the group was not involved in any contacts to end the clashes.

"There are no contacts. If the Israeli aggression continues and there are more victims there will be no room for discussion about a calm," Daud Shihab told AFP.

Meanwhile, in the West Bank city of Ramallah, Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas appealed for calm, making phone calls to Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah, Palestinian state news agency WAFA said.

Abbas also spoke with Arab League chief Nabil al-Arabi on Sunday, WAFA reported, saying they discussed "the possibility of moving to the UN Security Council if the dangerous escalation continued."

The latest round of violence began on Friday afternoon when an Israeli air strike killed the leader of the Popular Resistance Committees (PRC) militant group.

Since then, militants have fired around 130 rockets into southern Israel, wounding four people and prompting Israeli officials to cancel schools and ban large gatherings of people in the region.

Israel has carried out a series of air strikes, including four on Sunday morning that killed three people, one of them a school boy.

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