Hamas agreed to temporarily stop fighting Israel for 24 hours on Monday, but the Palestinian organization said it would respond to any subsequent military action from Israeli forces with suicide attacks at the end of the cease-fire.
“It is our right as an occupied people to defend ourselves from the occupation by all means possible including suicide attacks,” [Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha] said. Hamas last carried out a suicide attack in Israel in January 2005.
Israel on Monday began a campaign to muster international support for any major offensive to try to halt rocket fire from the impoverished Palestinian territory.
Tensions have mounted since the expiry on Friday of a six-month truce between Israel and Hamas in and around Gaza.
In a letter to UN chief Ban Ki-moon, Israel’s envoy to the United Nations, Gabriela Shalev, said the government would respond to continuing rocket fire, foreign ministry spokesman Yigal Palmor said.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, leader of the main governing Kadima party, has ordered Israeli ambassadors around the world to emphasise that Israel “will not hesitate to react militarily if necessary” to protect its citizens.
She is also due to meet foreign envoys to Israel and contact her counterparts abroad.
“We cannot accept a situation where Hamas continues its attacks on the citizens of Israel,” she said in a telephone call with US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, left, and U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, pictured here in a State Department file photo, discussed the Gaza situation over the phone.