RAMALLAH Ñ The Palestinian Islamic opposition movement has refused
an Egyptian plan for a ceasefire with Israel.
Hamas and Islamic Jihad representatives said their organizations have
rejected any suspension of the more than two-year war with Israel. They said
Hamas has insisted on continuing attacks on Israelis in the West Bank and
the Gaza Strip.
On Friday, Hamas fired three Kassem-3 short-range missiles from the Gaza
Strip. The missiles landed in the Israeli city of Sderot and no casualties
The Palestinian missile attack took place hours after Israeli attack
helicopters fired missiles at a Gaza City metal workshop said to have been
producing mortars and missiles. Palestinian sources said 11 missiles were
fired and destroyed a five-storey building.
In the West Bank, three Israeli soldiers were killed in a Palestinian
ambush near Hebron. Both Hamas and the Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades claimed
responsibility. Al Aqsa is headed by the ruling Fatah movement.
Military sources said the Palestinian attackers took the weapons from
two of the soldiers during the attack on late Thursday. The soldiers came
from an elite unit that was patrolling the area south of Hebron.
Twelve Palestinian groups were scheduled to begin the reconciliation
dialogue in Cairo on Friday. Palestinian sources said this would constitute
the largest meeting of Palestinian factions in 20 years.
On Thursday, Al Aqsa said it would ignore an Egyptian plan for a
year-long ceasefire with Israel. The group said it would renew suicide
missions in Israel.
"We will not abide by any agreement that calls for ending the uprising
or the resistance and we will continue with our martyrdom operations because
the Palestinian people have chosen
the path of resistance," Al Aqsa said in a statement.
In a related development, Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was said to have
pledged to his key ministers that he would consider a proposal to deport
Palestinian Authority Chairman Yasser Arafat after the U.S.-led war against
Iraq. The magazine said Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz and Foreign Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu have pressured Sharon to expel Arafat immediately.