Hamas says Israeli withdrawal from Gaza signals failure

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Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said on Monday that Israel's withdrawal from the enclave showed the country's military operation is not working.
DAMASCUS, March 3 (RIA Novosti) - Islamist group Hamas, which controls the Gaza Strip, said on Monday that Israel's withdrawal from the enclave showed the country's military operation is not working.

The group's leadership said in a statement that the withdrawal was the "beginning of the failure of the Israeli ground operation."

The group said that despite the great price Palestinians have been made to pay, Israel has failed to attain its goals by use of force.

On Sunday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas suspended the U.S.-brokered peace negotiations with Israel, demanding an end to the offensive in the Gaza Strip, which has killed at least 120 people in the past five days.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said on Monday his country would strive to resume peace negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, but will continue operations against militants in Gaza.

He said the government's policy "is to strike Hamas, as they are not interested in reaching any kind of understanding, and to continue negotiating with the pragmatic elements of the Palestinian leadership. If we are able to continue negotiating while fighting terrorism, we will be able to attain our goals."

Despite fierce Israeli assaults, Hamas militants have continued rocket and mortar attacks on border towns in southern Israel, including Sderot and Ashkelon.

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