Hamas leader- Gaza truce possible

2012-03-12 18:15

Cairo - A truce is likely soon in the cross-border hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza but the timing depends on Israel, a senior Hamas official said on Monday.

"I expect matters will calm down," Mahmoud Al-Zahar told Reuters in Cairo.

"The statements coming from them [Israel] either in public or via mediators, especially Egypt, say that they do not want escalation."

Asked how long it would take, Zahar said he did not know but it would depend on Israel, which he blamed for setting off the latest round of violence by killing Palestinian militant leaders on Friday.

Monday was the fourth day of attacks in which 23 Palestinians, most of them gunmen, have died.

"Hamas has not taken any decision now to escalate. It is trying with the Palestinian factions and the rest of the parties to reach a conditional truce, a truce conditioned on the Israeli enemy halting the aggression and pledging that targeting will not happen again," he said, referring to Israel's killing of the militants.

The latest surge in violence spiralled on Friday when Israel killed two militant leaders in the Hamas-run territory.

Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire appeared to be stuck over a demand by the Islamic Jihad militant group that Israel first promise not to target militant leaders for future attack.

Read more on:    hamas  |  israel  |  gaza strip  |  middle east peace

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