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Israel says it’s not targeting militants

Wed., Jan. 26, 2005

JERUSALEM – Israel has stopped targeting Palestinian militants for death, according to Israeli security officials, fulfilling a key Palestinian demand for a truce to end four years of violence.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said Israel has informed the Palestinians of their decision. It came after generals from the two sides met Tuesday to plan deployment of Palestinian police in central and southern Gaza, to prevent militants from attacking Israelis.

Since he took office earlier this month, Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas has been negotiating with militant groups about a truce declaration. In return, the militants are demanding that Israel stop its military operations and halt its killing of militant leaders.

The groups agreed to a one-month halt in attacks to test Israel’s response.

The security officials said Israel would not act on its current target list of militants, but they warned that if Palestinians resume hostile activity, they will target those responsible.

Speaking to the AP in Beirut, Lebanon, by cellular phone from an undisclosed location, Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal said the success of the truce effort depended on Israel.

“This is a moment of test,” said Mashaal, who is based in Damascus, Syria. “It puts the responsibility on the international community and the United States to force Israel to recognize the Palestinian rights.”

Mashaal warned that Hamas would respond to any Israeli attacks.


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