Saturday, November 17, 2012

Senior Hamas leader: No truce with Israel

Maan News Agency

Published today (updated) 17/11/2012 01:18
Smoke rises after Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Nov. 16.
(Reuters/Ahmed Zakot)
CAIRO (Ma'an) -- Hamas is rejecting calls for a ceasefire, the movement's deputy chief said Friday.

"There are many calls for truce but it will not be soon," said Mousa Abu Marzouq, who lives in Cairo.

Abu Marzouq said Hamas demands an end to Israel's siege on Gaza and to the assassination of Hamas leaders.

The United States has asked countries that have contact with Hamas to urge the group to stop its recent rocket attacks from Gaza, a White House adviser said Thursday.

"We've ... urged those that have a degree of influence with Hamas such as Turkey, and Egypt and some of our European partners to use that influence to urge Hamas to de-escalate," said Ben Rhodes, deputy national security adviser, in a conference call with reporters.

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Friday that the movement had rejected overtures from "several mediators" offering to broker a ceasefire.

Speaking after a meeting with factions in Gaza City, Abu Zuhri said: "We received proposals through several international and regional parties to broker a ceasefire, but Hamas believes the Israeli occupation is not serious about reaching a ceasefire agreement."

Hamas and other resistance factions agreed to continue to respond to Israeli attacks on Gaza "until there are guarantees that Israel will stick to a ceasefire agreement."

Israel broke its last Egypt-mediated ceasefire with Hamas on Wednesday when it assassinated the group's military commander Ahmad al-Jaabari in Gaza City.

Al-Jaabari had a close relationship with Cairo and was Egypt's point of contact to mediate truces and prisoner swaps.

Hamas leader Ahmad Yousef told Ma'an the Egyptian leadership no longer trusted Israel because it reneged on the last truce.

Yousef said Friday that Hamas would not agree to another ceasefire with Israel despite pressure from Arab and European countries.

He told Ma'an that Israel was transmitting requests for a ceasefire via European countries in what he described as "psychological warfare."

He added that Hamas would not consider a ceasefire unless Israel lifts its land, sea and air blockade of the Gaza Strip.

"The rules of the game have changed now," he said. "Things are different."