The leader of the militant Palestinian group Hamas said Monday that its fighters had stopped firing rockets at Israel for now. He also reached out in a limited way to the Obama administration and others in the West, saying the movement was seeking a state only in the areas Israel won in 1967.
As Israel withdrew its forces from the northern Gaza Strip on Monday after a two-day assault on Hamas militants, and as Palestinians emerged from their houses to inspect the damage, Hamas leaders seemed to be following the playbook of their Lebanese ally, Hezbollah, in its 2006 war with Israel.
Israeli mortar shells killed as many as 40 Palestinians, among them women and children, outside a U.N. school in Gaza on Tuesday where they were taking refuge from 11 days of fierce fighting. The Israeli military contended that Hamas fighters had fired mortars from the school compound, and U.N. officials called for an independent inquiry into the incident.
Three days after Hamas policemen shot and killed at least seven civilians at a rally in Gaza, leading a number of Gazans to express shock and anger at Hamas, Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian Authority president and the leader of the rival faction Fatah, called for the ouster of Hamas from power in Gaza.
The leaders of Hamas on Monday espoused a hard line against Israel at a conference that they and the militant Islamic Jihad faction convened in Gaza on the eve of the American-sponsored Middle East peace gathering in Annapolis, Md.
At least six Palestinians were killed and more than 100 wounded here on Monday when a rally by the relatively pro-Western Fatah movement to mark the third anniversary of the death of its founder, Yasser Arafat, ended in armed clashes between Fatah and its rival, Hamas.