Hamas to Israel: meet demands or face ‘long war’
Offers made to the Palestinian delegation in the Egyptian capital of Cairo fail to meet the aspirations of the people, said Hamas’s head of foreign affairs, Osama Hamdan, raising doubts about the chances of reaching a truce with Israel in the Egyptian-brokered talks, Reuters reported.
Hamdan said on his official Facebook page on Saturday: “Israel must accept the demands of the Palestinian people or face a long war.”
Israel launched its military campaign on July 8 to quell cross-border rocket fire from Hamas in Gaza. The United Nations said 425,000 of Gaza’s population of 1.8 million have been displaced by the war, which has led to the deaths of more than 1,900 Palestinians and 67 Israelis.
Most of the Palestinian dead have been civilians, hospital officials in the small enclave say.
Israel and the Palestinians agreed on Wednesday to extend a ceasefire agreement in Gaza by five days to continue indirect negotiations on a lasting truce. The ceasefire expires on Monday.
In Cairo, the two sides are not meeting face-to-face, as Israel regards Hamas, which advocates its destruction, as a terrorist group.
Hamas’s demands include lifting a blockade on Gaza, reducing movement restrictions on the territory’s 1.8 million residents, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told al-Aqsa Hamas television last week.
On Friday, the European Union said it was willing to reactivate an EU mission on the Egypt-Gaza border to help stabilize the Palestinian enclave after weeks of war.
“The EU is ready to support a possible international mechanism endorsed by the U.N. Security Council, including through the reactivation and possible extension in scope and mandate of its EUBAM Rafah,” a statement following the EU meeting said.
EUBAM started to monitor the Rafah crossing point – the main window on the world for Gaza’s 1.8 million Palestinians – in 2005 as part of an accord aimed at easing Israeli security concerns after it pulled its troops and settlers from Gaza.