Gaza militants signal truce with Israel after rockets
By Crispian Balmer and Nidal al-Mughrabi
JERUSALEM/GAZA (Reuters) - Palestinian militants indicated they were ready for a truce with Israel on Monday to defuse a growing crisis after four days of rocket strikes from the Gaza Strip into the south of the Jewish state.
There was no immediate response from Israel which has warned it is ready to ramp up its air strikes and shelling if the rockets do not cease.
Leaders of Hamas, the Islamist faction that controls Gaza, met with Islamic Jihad and other groups on Monday night and said they would respond according to the way Israel acted - a formulation used in previous flare-ups to offer a ceasefire.
"If (Israel) is interested in calm they should stop the aggression," Sami Abu Zuhri of Hamas told Reuters.
The Palestinian people were acting in self-defense, he said.
"The ball is in Israel's court. The resistance factions will observe Israel's behavior on the ground and will act accordingly," said Khaled Al-Batsh of the Islamic Jihad group.
Throughout the day, Israel warned it was ready for stronger action. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened foreign ambassadors in what an apparent move to pre-empt international censure should Israel, whose 2008-2009 Gaza offensive exacted a high civilian toll, again go in hard.
Netanyahu briefed the envoys in Ashkelon, a port city within range of some Palestinian rockets. "None of their governments would accept a situation like this," he said. Continued...