Hamas political leader Khaled Meshal issued the order to the group’s military wing last month after reconciliation talks in Cairo with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of the Fatah party, the officials told Ha’aretz.
Israeli officials say they are unaware of any change in Hamas‘ policy.
A change in Mr. Meshal’s tone has been detectable in recent weeks.
Last week, he said popular protest, separate from armed struggle, has “the power of a tsunami,” citing recent uprisings in the Arab world.
Mr. Meshal expressed support for a united Palestinian state that includes the West Bank, which is controlled by Fatah; the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas; and East Jerusalem, which Israel has annexed.
Still, the new policy marks a divergence from Mr. Meshal’s previous militant rhetoric and signals a shift in strategy that could encourage Israeli consideration.
Other militant groups in Gaza, like Islamic Jihad, have not endorsed Mr. Meshal’s position and continue to send rockets into Israel periodically, although far less than in the past — presumably because Hamas has reined them in.
Hamas Interior Minister Fathi Hamad said the group’s “internal leadership” — the Gaza leadership, as distinct from the political leadership based in Damascus — will not necessarily abide by Mr. Meshal’s new policy.