Hamas's announcement of the talks came as violence on the Israel-Gaza border has escalated in the new year.Israel has engaged in limited reprisals thus far - going after Hamas weapons factories and smuggling tunnels.
Within the first week of 2011, more than 10 rockets have been fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel’s southern communities.
On Saturday four mortar shells were fired from the Gaza Strip, exploding in a residential area in a kibbutz belonging to the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, wounding three Thai agricultural workers. The military wing of Islamic Jihad, the al-Quds Brigades, took responsibility for the attack, claiming it targeted a military base. At least three Kassam rockets were fired at southern Israel later in the evening, wounding a truck driver lightly.
In response to these attacks, the IDF has struck several terror-related sites in the past week. The Israeli Air Force targeted and hit a terrorist activity center in the northern Gaza Strip as well as a weapons manufacturing facility in the central Gaza Strip, both belonging to the Hamas terrorist organization. In a joint operation between the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the IDF, the IAF also struck one of the Hamas terrorist organization's terror activity centers in the central Gaza Strip and a smuggling tunnel in the southern Gaza Strip.
In 2010, 235 rockets, mortars, and other munitions were fired from Gaza into Israel. That's 4.5 a week. It's completely unacceptable for Israel to endure a single barrage of rockets or mortars and yet Israel has withstood such barrages for years on end with no end in sight. Hamas continues to agitate for Israel's destruction even as it tries to avoid a direct confrontation with Israel until Hamas determines it is time to act. Moreover, Hamas wants to lead such efforts and doesn't want to be dragged into a confrontation with Israel by other terror groups that would put Hamas at a disadvantage.
Israel has shown itself to be quite capable at killing Hamas forces - Operation Cast Lead showed that nearly all those Palestinians killed in the fighting were Hamas operatives - as later admitted by Hamas itself. They aren't about to go into another fight with Israel unless they are well prepared.