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Hamas Official Says Suicide Attacks to Resume (REUTERS) By Matthew Tostevin GAZA 12/08/03 09:15 AM ET) Source: http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=worldNews&storyID=3955331
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GAZA (Reuters) - A top official of Islamic group Hamas said Monday the recent lull in Palestinian militant suicide attacks against Israel was just a break between waves.
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"The martyrdom operations come as waves so there are gaps between the waves," Hamas chief spokesman Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi told Reuters in an interview. "We are just in the period of a gap between waves."
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A day after the collapse of talks among Palestinian factions on a complete cease-fire with Israel -- which Hamas opposed -- Rantissi said Palestinian militants were emboldened by Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon´s domestic woes and U.S. problems in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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"Everything is changed. Locally, regionally and internationally," Rantissi, a co-founder of Hamas, said. "The problems of America and the situation of America in Iraq and Afghanistan has its effect on the situation in Palestine. I believe that Palestinian people are stronger than before."
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Sworn to the destruction of Israel and at the forefront of a suicide bombing campaign, the radical Islamic group opposes the United States as the Jewish state´s main ally.
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But while Hamas urges resistance to the Americans in Iraq, it says it has no link to any groups fighting there.
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Palestinian officials have said the decision by Hamas and other Muslim militant groups to spurn a truce reflected a poor grasp of the international climate.
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"They had a very weird analysis of the international situation," said Ahmed Ghneim, a senior official in President Yasser Arafat and Prime Minister Ahmed Qurie´s mainstream Fatah faction who participated in the Cairo talks.
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"They believe the United States, Palestinian Authority and Israel are in a crisis, while they are not."
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Jibril al-Rajoub, a senior security adviser to Arafat, added: "Apparently Hamas has not understood changes in the international arena."
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Hamas agreed in June to a one-sided truce, but Israel never recognized it and it crumbled amid violence within weeks -- hobbling a U.S.-backed peace plan that Hamas opposes.
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Rantissi said Hamas now sensed that Sharon´s position had been weakened by a rise in domestic opposition to Israeli policies in occupied territories.
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Sharon has recently come under criticism from his own army chief and former heads of the security service while polls at the weekend put his support at an all-time low.
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"I believe they (the Israelis) are in a bad situation because of the policy of Sharon, the murderous Sharon, and they are in a bad situation economically and of morale and of many other things," he said.
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Israeli security sources say they believe Hamas itself has been weakened by the killing of some of its leaders and arrests of militants, but Rantissi said resistance would continue.
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At Egyptian-brokered talks which collapsed in Cairo on Sunday, Hamas said it was willing to stop attacks on civilians inside Israel proper if Israel reciprocated.
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But the Israelis rule out any cease-fire that would not also cover soldiers and Jewish settlers living in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, occupied since the 1967 war.
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A cease-fire is seen as vital to any meaningful revival of a U.S.- backed "road map" designed to lead to a Palestinian state by 2005. (© Reuters 2003 12/08/03)
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