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Hamas In Gaza Welcomes Israeli Call For Cease-Fire

The site of the deadly school bus attack on April 7

The site of the deadly school bus attack on April 7

Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip said they want to end a recent round of fighting with Israel after Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak today signaled willingness to agree to a cease-fire.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says Palestinian factions are not interested in an escalation of violence.

Barak said Israel is willing to accept a mutual cease-fire with Hamas militants in Gaza after days of deadly violence.

Barak told Israel radio: "If they stop firing on our communities, we will stop firing."

Earlier today, Palestinian militants in Gaza fired mortar rounds and a rocket into southern Israel, prompting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to threaten a "far harsher" response than in recent days if attacks don't stop.

The death toll since Israel launched retaliation strikes for an attack on a school bus that critically wounded a teenager on April 7 has climbed to 19 Palestinian militants and civilians.

The Israeli Army says Gaza militants have fired at least 120 rockets and mortars at southern Israel since April 7.

compiled from agency reports