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Hamas blasts ‘collaborators’ with Israel

Says rockets give Israel pretext to attack people

The Hamas rulers of Gaza on Tuesday lashed out at militants who fire rockets at Israel from the Palestinian territory in violation of a seven-week-old truce, calling them collaborators.

"About the rocket-firing, I think those who are responsible are those who collaborate with Israel because there is a consensus by all Palestinian groups to respect the truce," said Mahmoud Zahar, the most influential leader of the Islamist Hamas movement in Gaza.

On Monday, a rocket fired from the Gaza Strip slammed into an empty field outside the southern Israeli city of Sderot, causing no casualty or damage.

Zahar told a Gaza radio station that the party which fired the rocket was "linked to Israel as they provide a pretext to exercise pressure on the Palestinian people."

After the latest firing, Israel on Tuesday closed the Nahal Oz crossing to Gaza that is used to ferry in fuel and the Sufa passage for food deliveries to the impoverished and blockaded territory.

In all, 40 rockets and mortar rounds have been fired from Gaza since a truce between Hamas and Israel went into effect in and around Gaza on June 19, according to the Israeli army.

Hamas, which seized power in Gaza in June 2007, insists it is respecting the truce and has vowed to crack down on smaller Palestinian militant movements which still fire at Israel.