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Monday, March 8, 2010    

Hamas resumes cooperation with Islamic Jihad
at Iran's behest

GAZA CITY — The Hamas regime, under pressure from Iran, has resumed cooperation with Islamic Jihad.   

Palestinian sources said the Islamic regime has permitted the resumption of high-profile activities by the Iranian-sponsored Jihad in the Gaza Strip. They said after a ban of nearly a year, Hamas agreed to allow Jihad to stage demonstrations and operations along the border with Israel.

Until 2009, Jihad was deemed the most active Palestinian militia in the Gaza Strip, claiming responsibility for nearly daily missile and rocket strikes against Israel. In the wake of the January 2009 war, Jihad suspended virtually all operations amid a Hamas crackdown as well as a sharp drop in funding from Iran, which founded the Palestinian insurgency network nearly 30 years ago.

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"In recent meetings, Iranian leaders urged Hamas to reconcile with Jihad," a Palestinian source said.

On Feb. 28, Jihad was allowed to stage a mass rally in Gaza City. Thousands of Jihad supporters called on the Hamas regime to intensify attacks on neighboring Israel.

"It [Israel] only understands the language of force," Jihad leader Mohammed Al Hindi said.

The rally was meant to protest an Israeli government decision to restore the Cave of the Patriarchs in Hebron and Rachel's Tomb in Bethlehem. Muslims claim both sites as theirs exclusively, and the Palestinian Authority has been encouraging protests throughout the West Bank and Jerusalem.

"The entity, called Israel, cannot intimidate our people and our resistance through aggression," Al Hindi said.

The sources said Jihad has agreed to coordinate with Hamas operations against Israel. They said the attacks would not include missile and rocket strikes, but focus on improvised explosive devices and light weapons fire toward the Israeli border.

Hamas and Jihad were also expected to coordinate in activities against the PA in the West Bank. The sources said this could include joint operations against Israeli civilians and soldiers as well as developing military cells that could undermine the rule of PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas.

"We call on them [PA] to halt any direct or indirect talks with the occupation and to unleash the Palestinian resistance to protect our land and holy sites," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said.

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