Hamas talks on ceasefire, Gaza death toll passes 1,000

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

GAZA: Hamas officials were negotiating a ceasefire on Wednesday as Israeli forces kept up pressure in the Gaza Strip, where the Palestinian death toll rose above 1,000 after 19 days of air and ground attacks.
Intensive talks took place in Cairo on an Egyptian truce proposal, but sticking points remained.
A senior Beirut-based Hamas official, Osama Hamdan, told Al Jazeera television: 'There are still points of difference on the initiative.'
Ayman Taha, a Hamas official working with Egyptian mediators in Cairo, was due to give a news conference at 08:00 p.m.
Speaking to Reuters, he declined to say whether he would announce an agreement, saying only: 'Hamas has accepted Egyptian efforts to achieve a ceasefire and lift the blockade.'
Earlier, a Palestinian official close to the talks said that Hamas — which wants Israel to end its assault, withdraw its troops and end a long blockade on the Gaza Strip — still had one reservation.
Hamas officials were meeting Egypt's intelligence chief Omar Suleiman to discuss it, he said.
There was no immediate comment from Israel, which wants an end to Hamas rocket attacks on its towns and assurances that the movement will be unable to rearm itself by smuggling from Egypt.
Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni issued a statement saying: 'Even if an international solution is found to the smuggling issue, Israel would reserve the right to act ... militarily.'
European governments have offered Egypt technical help in sealing off its 15 km border with the enclave, which has been riddled with smuggling tunnels over recent years.
Releasing new figures, the Health Ministry in the Gaza Strip said 1,010 Palestinians had been killed and 4,700 wounded by Israeli forces so far.


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