DOHA: Hamas yesterday rejected a ceasefire to end 16 days of deadly fighting with Israel unless the blockade on the Gaza Strip is lifted, its chief Khaled Meshaal said in Doha.
“We reject today... and will reject in the future” a ceasefire before negotiations on Hamas’s demands, which include lifting years of blockade against the Palestinian enclave, Meshaal told reporters.
Lifting the eight-year blockade is a main demand of Hamas which also wants the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and Israel to free prisoners.
As international calls for an end to the fighting in Gaza mount, Meshaal insisted that the Islamist Hamas “welcomes all efforts to end the aggression” and “does not object” to mediation by any party, including Egypt.
“We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” he said.
Egypt, whose President Abdel Fattah Al Sisi has sought to isolate Hamas in the neighbouring Gaza, had tried to broker truce between Israel and Hamas.
Hamas had rejected the ceasefire proposal which it said was favourable to Israel. It argues that Egypt’s proposal, which is backed by the United States, United Nations and Arab League, would allow Israel to dictate if and when to ease its blockade on Gaza.AFP