Headline News


Hamas announces acceptance of 18-month truce in Gaza

Source: Xinhua | 02-13-2009 07:52

Special Report:   Israel airstrikes in Gaza

CAIRO, Feb. 12 (Xinhua) -- Hamas said Thursday night the group has accepted an 18-month truce with Israel in the Gaza Strip and that a formal agreement might be announced in "two days."

"We agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for one year and a half," Hamas' politburo deputy chief Moussa Abu-Marzouk said in a statement carried by the Egyptian MENA news agency reported.

Six border crossings between Gaza and Israel should be reopened and the Jewish country must "stop military actions and aggressions in all forms," he said, without mentioning the Rafah crossing on the Egypt-Gaza border, the only one that bypasses Israel.

Marzouk also said Egypt will announce the result of the truce talks "within two days," after making contacts with Israel and other Palestinian factions.

The breakthrough came after intensive talks between a Hamas delegation led by Marzouk and Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman on Thursday.

As for the prisoners swap, which was packaged by Israel in its vision of the truce deal, Marzouk said the issue of Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit should be excluded from the ceasefire terms, recommending a separate settlement.

Shalit was taken captive by Hamas-led militants in a cross-border raid in June 2006. Hamas demands Israel pardon more than 1,000 Palestinian prisoners from its jails in exchange for Shalit's release.

Israel refused the request for fear that some prisoners on the list might endanger the Jewish country. However, outgoing Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, who vowed to "clear his desk" before stepping down, has offered to fully open the Gaza border crossings in exchange for Shalit's release.

"We want the release of our prisoners in exchange for the soldier," Marzouk said, adding that they have presented a list of Palestinian prisoners to Egypt.

No Israeli response to the Hamas offer is available so far.

Egypt has been endeavoring to mediate a lasting truce to replace the fragile ceasefires, declared on Jan. 18 separately by both sides, ending Israel's 22-day massive assault in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip.

Hamas wants a long-term ceasefire with all border crossings permanently opened and the tight blockade Israel imposed on Gaza Strip since June 2007 lifted.

Israel aims to halt rocket attacks from Gaza haunting southern Israeli communities and put an end to the arms smuggling through the tunnel-ridden Egypt-Gaza border. It preferred an open-ended truce in which the Gaza border crossings should be opened step by step.

About 1,300 Palestinians were killed and 5,500 others wounded during the war, while 14 Israelis have died since the launch of the deadly offensive in Gaza on Dec. 27.


Editor:Zhang Pengfei