Hamas Official to Visit Cairo for Renewed Ceasefire Talks
A Hamas official is to hold talks in Cairo on Wednesday about Egyptian-led efforts to end a nine-day conflict between the Gaza-based Islamist movement and Israel, Palestinians Authority sources said.
The terrorist group has already rejected a proposal that Egypt put forward this week aimed at bringing an end to the violence, complaining that it had been excluded from the discussions.
After Hamas's "military wing", the Ezzadine al-Qassam Brigades, rejected the ceasefire out of hand as soon as it was suggested, the group's "political leaders" waited until Wednesday to officially do so.
"The outcome of discussions within the internal institutions of the movement was to reject the proposal and therefore, Hamas informed Egypt last night it apologizes for not accepting it," spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said on Wednesday, according to the Guardian.
But efforts may yet resume, according to a senior PA official.
"A meeting will be held this afternoon between an official from Hamas and a representative of the Egyptian leadership," said Azzam al-Ahmad, a senior member of Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas' Fatah movement.
Speaking at a meeting of the Arab League, Ahmad voiced hope that those at the gathering would "crystalize a definite formula for an Egyptian initiative" or clarify Cairo's plan, which proposed and end to hostilities from 0600 GMT on Tuesday.
Israel initially accepted the Egyptian initiative, but later intensified its air operation aimed at stamping out rocket fire from Gaza terrorists after Hamas and Islamic Jihad rejected the truce and fired dozens of rockets on Israeli population centers.
Ahmad's remarks came as Mideast Quartet envoy Tony Blair held talks with Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi and Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri, on his second visit to Cairo within a week to discuss the Gaza conflict.
Later on Wednesday, Abbas is also due to arrive in the Egyptian capital for talks about a possible ceasefire.
Since the ceasefire efforts failed Tuesday the IDF has struck more than 100 terrorist targets in Gaza, while terrorists fired around 70 rockets since Wednesday morning morning alone as of lunchtime today - including an barrage of long-range missile fire at Tel Aviv.
Later Wednesday Hamas and Islamic Jihad floated a ceasefire proposal of their own, stipulating a long list of conditions including the establishment of an international airport in Gaza and a complete end to the Israeli and Egyptian blockades on the territory, meant to stop weapons being smuggled in. In return, terrorists would agree to a ten-year ceasefire with Israel.