Palestinian officials, usually reluctant to acknowledge external threats, say privately they are worried that Iran has a growing involvement. Israeli military intelligence officials say that militant Palestinian cells are receiving money and arms indirectly supplied by Iran, through neighboring Syria and Lebanon.
According to gunmen here as well as Israeli army officials, the Iranian-supported militant group Hezbollah - the most powerful political and military force in southern Lebanon, along that country's border with Israel - is offering gunmen money to defy the truce with Israel.
Officials talk of other reasons for Hezbollah to want to prolong the conflict. They include Hezbollah's need to justify itself after Israel's withdrawal from southern Lebanon in May 2000, and its core ideology that Israel should not exist.
"The headquarters of the Palestinian terror organizations are located in Damascus," Ariel Sharon, Israel's prime minister, told reporters this week. "Syria together with Iran encourages and finances terror activities by Palestinian terror organizations, as well as Hezbollah's activities against Israel."
The Israeli army also points to the arrest of militants who say they are in contract with Hezbollah. In addition, the Hamas chief in Damascus, Khaled Mashaal, met in Beirut last month with Hassan Nasrallah, the secretary general of Hezbollah.
This week, Israeli troops killed two Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank, and militants announced that the men had been dispatched to attack a Jewish settlement on orders of Hezbollah. Israeli army officials believe that Hamas' recent breach of a truce, involving dozens of mortar rounds being fired at Jewish settlements in Gaza, was ordered by Hamas leaders in Syria over the objections of the group's local, more moderate commanders.
Ziad Abu Amr, a Palestinian legislator from Gaza who is negotiating the current cease-fire on behalf of the Palestinian Authority, was equally dismissive of Iranian or Syrian influence on local affairs.
"Israel has a tendency to exaggerate the existence of external threats," Amr said. "We are dealing with internal Palestinian issues, and convincing the factions to disarm has nothing to do with the concerns of other countries. It is simply not an issue. Iran is not fighting Israel from here."
Hamas leaders in Gaza have agreed to an informal truce and to seek permission from the Palestinian Authority before responding to any Israeli actions. They also recently won seats in municipal elections here.