Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon told residents of southern Israeli communities living near the border with Gaza that Hamas terrorists do not want a war with Israel.

“Hamas is not interested in further escalation and is relaying these messages through Egypt,” Ya’alon told residents with whom he met on Monday.

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“The rocket fire is unacceptable,” he continued. “Hamas operates most of the year against the sources that launch these attacks [against Israel] and enforces the understandings reached after Operation Pillar of Defense.”

For some time, Gaza’s Hamas rulers have been engaged in a quiet power struggle of their own for control over the region. Al Qaeda-linked Salafi Muslim terrorist groups have been growing in popularity among more radical members of Hamas and have begun to openly challenge the organization for control over Gaza.

Nevertheless, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned over the weekend after a massive barrage of rocket attacks launched at southern Israel that if Hamas could not the rocket fire, Israel would be forced to do so.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.

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