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Hamas Armed Wing Vows to Respond to Gaza Strikes

GAZA - The military wing of Islamic Hamas movement on Sunday vowed to respond to a series of Israeli airstrikes in the Gaza Strip early Sunday morning in which around 10 Palestinians were wounded.

Palestinians check the damage on a smuggling tunnel following an Israeli airstrike on the border between Egypt and Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip, Sunday, Nov. 22, 2009. The Israeli military said its aircraft have attacked two weapons-making factories and a smuggling tunnel in the Gaza Strip early Sunday in retaliation for rocket fired into southern Israel from Gaza a day earlier. (AP Photo/Eyad Baba) "The Israeli escalation will not be ignored and Ezz el-Deen al-Qassam Brigades will not fail to take actions," said Abu Obaida, a spokesman for the Hamas armed wing.

"We will defend ourselves with all means possible and we will counter any new offensives," Abu Obaida added in a statement sent to the press.

The Israeli raids, which took place after midnight, targeted metal workshops and smuggling tunnels in southern Gaza Strip town of Rafah, close to the Egyptian borders.

Abu Obaida said the Israel attacked Gaza after Palestinian factions had agreed to halt rocket-fire on Jewish communities near the enclave.

Shortly before the Israeli airstrikes, Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hammad announced that the group had reached an agreement with other armed organizations to halt rocket attacks at Israel for the time being in order to avoid Israel's retaliation.

However, "this doesn't mean that the hands of resistance are shackled to respond to the Zionist aggression," he continued.

"The agreement to halt the rockets doesn't mean we are weak; it is to maintain the internal and external fronts and the higher interest of the Palestinian people," Abu Obaida said.

Meanwhile, a statement released by the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) said the airstrikes were launched "in response to the firing of a Qassam rocket at the city of Sderot on Saturday morning."

The latest rocket fire from Gaza caused no casualty or damage, and no militant group in the Palestinian enclave has claimed responsibility for the attack.

 

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