**All these militants are dropping their guns like Frenchmen ** Hamas Said to Halt Attacks Inside Israel 5 minutes ago By LAURIE COPANS, Associated Press Writer JERUSALEM - The Islamic group responsible for most suicide bombings in three years of violence has called off attacks inside Israel, a move that could pave the way for a full cease-fire in weeks, the Israeli military says. AP Photo AP Photo Slideshow: Mideast Conflict Funerals Held for Victims of Mideast Violence (AP Video) Israel's military chief, Maj. Gen. Moshe Yaalon, told the Yediot Ahronot newspaper in an interview published Friday that Hamas has decided to stop attacks against Israel. In response, Israel will hold off targeting Hamas leaders but will still go after other Palestinian militants in retaliation for a suicide bombing this week, security sources said. Hamas officials were not available for comment Friday so it was not clear if the group was sticking to cease-fire efforts. But Israel appeared to be acting on that assumption. Since the start of fighting in September 2000, Israel has hunted down and killed militant leaders. On Thursday, a helicopter airstrike in the Gaza Strip (news - web sites) killed three militants and two leaders. "It is no coincidence that a group like Hamas decides to stop attacks within Israel, it comes from the realization that their organization is in danger," Yaalon was quoted as saying. The Hamas move, Yaalon said, showed Israel had turned a corner in its battle against the militants. He said a truce could be achieved in 2004, making it the quietest year since fighting began three years ago. "It is possible that we will reach a cease-fire in the coming weeks," Yaalon told the newspaper. "The Palestinian-Israeli conflict will be with us for many years to come, but I believe we have now passed the peak of the violent struggle. Israel's helicopter assault Thursday came moments before a Palestinian suicide bombing near Tel Aviv that killed four Israelis. The suicide bombing did not appear to be coordinated as retaliation for the airstrike. Hamas has taken responsibility for most of the more than 100 suicide bombings against Israelis in the fighting. But Thursday's suicide bombing was claimed by two other groups, Islamic Jihad and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. Israeli officials and Palestinian militants both pledged retaliation for the Thursday attacks, but Israel said it would not target Hamas leaders, reinforcing the comments by Israel's army chief of staff. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz decided in a meeting Friday with top commanders that Israel will strike at Palestinian militants, mainly those responsible for the suicide bombing, security officials said. Hamas leaders will not be targeted, they said on condition of anonymity. Islamic Jihad militants warned at funerals Friday for the Palestinians killed in the airstrike that attacks against Israelis would not abate. "We will chase the Zionist occupiers sitting on each and every inch of usurped Palestine until their final defeat," an armed and masked member of Islamic Jihad told thousands of participants at one funeral. Thursday's suicide bombing was the first successful attack on civilians since an Islamic Jihad suicide bomber blew herself up on Oct. 4 at a restaurant in the northern Israeli city of Haifa, killing 21 people. The last Israeli air raid until Thursday's, in the Gaza Strip on Oct. 20, killed 14 people, most of them bystanders. Israel and the Palestinian Authority (news - web sites) have been trying to work out a meeting between the prime ministers of the two sides, but the efforts have stalled because of conditions placed by both. The sides have also been reluctant to fully implement the U.S.-backed "road map" peace plan, which envisions an independent Palestinian state by 2005. In the meantime, the peace plan requires Israel to freeze settlement activity in the West Bank and Gaza, and orders the Palestinians to dismantle militant groups steps neither side has taken.