The Jerusalem Post (Link) - JP Staff & Reuters (April 9, 2011)
Group’s spokesman says it didn’t intend to target children; threatens that Hamas attacks will broaden if “Israeli escalation continues amid international silence and complicity.”
Hamas said on Saturday it would escalate it attacks against Israel to include a wider range of targets if the IDF failed to halt its aerial assaults on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri blamed Israel for an escalation in violence. “If the Israeli escalation continues, amid international silence and complicity, the reactions by resistance factions will broaden,” he told Reuters, saying such actions would be necessary to protect Palestinians in Gaza.
Abu Zuhri also said that Hamas operatives did not intend to target Israeli schoolchildren when they fired a rocket at a bus two days ago, critically wounding a teenager and sparking the latest round of border fighting.
“It was not known that the bus targeted on the outskirts of Gaza carried schoolchildren,” spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told Reuters, adding that the road where the bus was travelling was often used by IDF vehicles.
On Friday, Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh said that “Israeli aggression in the Gaza Strip will not be able to break the will of the Palestinian people.”
He also called for the cessation of IDF attacks in Gaza.
On Thursday night, Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip declared a unilateral cease fire some hours after it shot a school bus with an guided anti-tank missile and fired dozens of mortar shells and projectiles. The attack on the school bus left a 16-year-old in critical condition.
The IDF, however, continued to strike back at targets despite the Palestinian attempt to calm the situation.
Since then, over 20 Grad-model Katyusha rockets have been fired by Gaza-based groups into Israel. The IDF’s Iron Dome anti-rocket defense system successfully intercepted several of the longer-range Grads. Dozens more Kassam rockets and mortar shells have exploded in Israeli territory over the weekend.
According to Palestinian reports, at least 16 Palestinians have been killed in recent days by IDF strikes aimed at Hamas and other terrorist elements in the Strip. At least 8, including a number of Hamas commanders were confirmed as being members of terrorist groups. †