By Ola Attallah – Gaza
As Israel continues attacks on the besieged Gaza Strip, Palestinian factions are rejecting the renewal of a six-month truce with Israel, set to expire on Friday, December 19.
"The truce will end on Friday and Hamas will not renew it," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhum told IslamOnline.net.
Islamic Jihad echoed a similar position. "Islamic Jihad is not going to renew the truce," said Jihad leader Nafez Azzam.
"There is no positive sign that encourages the Palestinians to renew the truce as the Israeli siege and aggression continue."
Israeli planes launched two airstrikes into the Gaza Strip early Thursday, destroying metal workshops in north and south Gaza.
The raids came shortly after a 42-year-old Palestinian man was killed in an Israeli raid on Wednesday.
Israel killed 22 Palestinians in 195 raids since the Egyptian-brokered truce came into effect in June, according to Islamic Jihad estimates. Nearly 66 Palestinians were injured in the Israeli attacks.
"There is no incentive for Hamas to renew a deal that failed to achieve its hoped-for results," Hamas prime minister Ismail Haniyeh has said.
Hamas political chief Khaled Meshal also said that his movement would not renew the truce.
Palestinian factions insist that Israel must lift its chocking blockade on Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians, before renewing the truce.
Despite international criticism, Israel closes all commercial crossings with the impoverished Palestinian territory since November 4.
The Israeli siege has forced the UN aid agency UNRWA to suspend food deliveries for the starving Gazans.
"Food distribution for both emergency and regular programs will be suspended … until further notice," UNRWA said in a statement on Thursday.
Fayeq Al-Helu, a Gaza resident, said Israel allowed more goods into the blockaded Gaza truce than it has done since the truce.
"This truce was an illusion," he told Reuters.
Palestinian factions said that they would not be the first to end the calm period in the seaside strip.
"Hamas will not be the first party to break the ceasefire," a Hamas source told IOL.
"However, Hamas will not stand hand-tied and will respond to any Israeli assault."
Khaled Al-Batsh, an Islamic Jihad leader, agrees.
"We will respond to any Israeli escalation," he told the Doha-based Al-Jazeera television.
"We have no other option."
The Jihad leader said that Israel has used the truce to serve its interests while failing to meet its obligations.
"The Palestinian factions abided by the truce but Israel did not," he said.
Batsh said that the Palestinian factions, however, would not close the door to regional efforts to calm the situation in the strip.
"We don’t want more suffering for the Palestinian people but we have no other option."
– Ola Attallah is a correspondent for IslamOnline in Gaza. (Originally published in IslamOnline.net)