Hamas Rejects Ceasefire
Despite taking heavy losses in the Cast Lead operation in Gaza, Hamas announced Thursday that it rejects an Egyptian-French truce initiative. According to Al-Arabiyya, Hamas leaders in Damascus called the proposal “insufficient.”
Hamas has insisted that Israel allow it to use western Negev crossings to import and export goods under any ceasefire deal.
French President Nicolas Sarkozy announced Wednesday that Israel and Hamas had accepted the ceasefire deal. Both Israel and Hamas denied the report. However, Israeli diplomats said Israel was “seriously considering” the proposal.
Under the ceasefire deal, Israel would withdraw from Gaza immediately and Gaza terrorists would stop firing rockets at Israel. Israeli leaders have insisted that the deal should include a guarantee that Hamas will keep its word, and Sarkozy recently said he would do “whatever necessary” to ensure that both sides would obey the ceasefire.
The Cabinet discussed the ceasefire initiative in its Wednesday meeting, and ultimately decided to continue with the operation for the meantime. Ministers refrained from expanding the operation to include an IDF presence in city centers in major Gaza cities.
Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas declined to respond to reports that Hamas had rejected the ceasefire, saying he had not yet received an official report.
Gaza terrorists continued firing on Israel on Wednesday, hitting Ashkelon, Sderot and the Eshkol region. Several people were wounded in the rocket attacks. The attacks destroyed a sports center and caused damage to residential structures and a playground.