Hamas’ Zahar: Ceasefire likely to come soon

Organization’s leader Mahmoud Zahar says Israel does not want escalation; ceasefire will come when Israel stops attacks in Gaza; PRC, Islamic Jihad: No ceasefire while air strikes continue.


CAIRO – A truce is likely soon in the cross-border hostilities between Israel and Palestinians in Gaza but the timing depends on Israel, Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar said on Monday.

“I expect matters will calm down,” 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.”

 Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar  - Photo By Reuters

Hamas leader Mahmoud Zahar - Photo By Reuters

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 leaders on Friday.

“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 leaders.

Zahar’s comments came as representatives from Islamic Jihad and the Popular Resistance Commitees (PRC) said Monday that they oppose signing a ceasefire with Israel, the Palestinian Ma’an news agency reported.

“We will not agree on a ceasefire stipulated by Israel, neither do we accept a ceasefire while the lives of our people are taken without restraint,” Ma’an quoted Islamic Jihad officials as saying. Ma’an added that the PRC’s armed wing supported Islamic Jihad’s stance on the issue.

The two terrorist groups have fired over 200 rockets at Israel since Friday.

Monday was the fourth day of violence in which 23 Palestinians, most of them terrorists, have died.
The latest surge in violence spiraled on Friday when Israel killed the Popular Resistance Committees leader Zuheir al-Qaisi’s in the Hamas-run territory. The IDF has said that the assassination of Qaisi was part of an operation to thwart attempts by the PRC to carry out a terror attacks in Sinai, along the Israeli-Egyptian border.

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