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    Hamas leaders go underground, threaten 'earthquake' in Israel
    By KHALED ABU TOAMEH


    Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip have gone into hiding for fear that Israel might try to kill them, Palestinian sources said Thursday.

    According to the sources, most of the leaders of Hamas including prominent political figures like Mahmoud Zahar, Ismail Abu Shanab, and Ismail Haniyeh have "disappeared" from their homes following the botched assassination attempt against Abdel Aziz Rantisi on Tuesday.

    Hamas officials in Gaza City confirmed that the movement's top leaders are hiding, saying they have decided to take precautionary measures to protect themselves against possible Israeli retaliatory attacks.

    One of Hamas's senior spokesmen, Ismail Haniyeh, called off a live interview on Al-Jazeera Thursday after he said he heard Israeli helicopters hovering over the area.

    "I now have to stop this interview because I can hear helicopters in the air," he told the Arab TV station before hanging up the phone.

    Palestinian Authority officials in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post Hamas leaders are convinced that the government of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon has taken a decision to wipe out the Hamas leadership.

    "They're very nervous," one PA official said. "Most of them have moved to safe houses and have minimized their contacts with the outside world. Only a very few people know where they are."

    Hamas on Thursday called on all its leaders and top members "to mobilize, be vigilant, and take all the measures and precautions necessary." It also ordered "all military cells" to take immediate action and carry out more attacks against Israel.

    The movement urged foreigners to leave Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza Strip for their own safety.
    Hamas said in a statement that more attacks would follow.

    The bus bombing [in Jerusalem] "is the beginning of a new series of attacks and part of a bill the Zionists must pay," a Hamas statement said.
    "We call upon all foreigners to evacuate the Zionist entity immediately in order to protect their lives," Hamas said. "We call on all military cells to act immediately and act like an earthquake to blow up the Zionist entity and tear it to pieces."

    Hamas said it would "teach the criminal enemy new painful lessons," and that the "Gaza Strip, if the enemy invades it, will be transformed into a graveyard for the invaders."

    Hamas called for unity among Palestinian ranks and urged "Arab and Muslim masses not to stay with their arms folded, faced with the escalation of the Zionist aggression against their brothers in Palestine
 
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