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Hamas says Israel stalling on agreement as Gaza death toll hits 2,016
Published Sunday 17/08/2014 (updated) 19/08/2014 17:41
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Israeli soldiers stand in front of the graffiti covered separation barrier
during clashes with Palestinians at the Qalandia checkpoint between
Ramallah and Jerusalem on Aug. 13, 2014 (AFP Abbas Momani)
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A Hamas spokesman on Sunday accused Israel of "stalling" in ongoing negotiations in Cairo to achieve a long-term truce in Gaza, stressing that "the ball is in the Israeli occupation's court."

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said during a march in solidarity with Palestinian resistance in Rafah that the group's "priority is to reach an agreement, but the occupiers must stop stalling."

"We are discussing an agreement from a position of strength, not weakness," he said, adding: "Either we have an agreement that meets our demands, or no agreement."

"Israelis will not enjoy safety until our people do and the siege is completely lifted. (Israelis in the south) will only return home when Hamas allows them to, not when Netanyahu does," he said.

Israel "must be ready for the consequences of the failure to agree," he added.

The remarks come on the fourth day of a five-day temporary ceasefire in the hostilities that began more than five weeks ago with a massive Israeli aerial assault on Gaza that was followed by a major ground invasion.

On Sunday, medical authorities in Gaza said that the total death toll of the assault in Gaza had hit 2,016 and more than 10,193 injured, as dozens more Palestinians succumbed to wounds sustained during the bombardment.

Gaza-based spokesman for the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that the massive increase in the number of dead also included a number of bodies that were pulled from the rubble as thousands of displaced families and rescue teams took advantage of the calm to return to their former homes.

Al-Qidra said that the dead included at least 541 children and 95 elderly, while 3,084 children and 368 elderly were among the wounded.

Indirect negotiations in Cairo between Israel and a Palestinian delegation with representatives of all major political parties including Hamas have offered a hope of reaching a lasting ceasefire and an end to the Israeli assault.

Despite signs of a potential agreement at the end of the current five-day temporary ceasefire, however, it is still unclear whether a deal is in the works, the temporary ceasefire will be re-extended, or hostilities will recommence Monday at midnight when the ceasefire ends.

The Palestinian delegation has insisted that any long-term truce include the end of Israel's eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip, release of dozens of prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested that were released in 2011 as part of the Shalit exchange, re-opening of a seaport and airport in Gaza, and creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel, however, has countered that any agreement should include the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, which Palestinians resolutely reject, particularly in light of the recent assault.

'Mandate to stand firm on security needs'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Sunday that Israel will not agree to any long-term ceasefire in Gaza at indirect talks in Cairo unless its security needs are clearly met.

"The Israeli delegation in Cairo is acting with a very clear mandate to stand firmly on Israel's security needs," Netanyahu told ministers at the start of the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem.

"Only if there is a clear answer to Israel's security needs, only then will we agree to reach an understanding," he said, as Israel's negotiating team made its way back to Cairo for the talks.

In a sign that the gaps between the two sides are unlikely to be bridgeable, Netanyahu warned that Hamas would not chalk up any diplomatic successes in Cairo.

"If Hamas thinks it will make up for its military losses with a political achievement, it is wrong," he said.

"If Hamas thinks that by continuing the steady trickle of rocket fire it will force us to make concessions, it is wrong," he said.

Ahead of Sunday's cabinet meeting, ministers insisted there would be no long-term truce agreement, nor would the Palestinians win Israel's agreement to the establishment of a port or airport without Gaza first being disarmed.

"We have to insist on the matter of demilitarization," Intelligence Minister Yuval Steinitz told reporters.

"A sea port and or an airport without demilitarization is like a duty free for missiles and rockets," he said.

"So far, many Grad (rockets) and Fajar missiles have been smuggled into Gaza and we don't want to find ourselves in a situation where Scud missiles are being smuggled into Gaza through the port," he said.

Top diplomats from the European Union said on Friday that a durable ceasefire must mean "all terrorist groups in Gaza must disarm" in a statement welcomed by Israel's foreign ministry which said it was the only way to ensure a "fundamental change" of the situation.

"There won't be reconstruction without Gaza's demilitarization, and there won't be a ceasefire without quiet for those in the south," Finance Minister Yair Lapid told reporters.

Economy Minister Naftali Bennett, a cabinet hardliner, called for an immediate end to the talks in Cairo, urging Israel to implement its own unilateral initiative thereby avoiding the need to sign any form of agreement with Hamas.

"Any agreement which ties our hands will just speed up the next war," he said in a statement.

AFP contributed to this report
1 ) Outlier / USA
17/08/2014 21:23
It is a negotiation. If there is a problem, it means the terms need to be revised to the satisfaction of BOTH parties . And BTW, Hamas needs to look at the dictionary: Gaza is NOT occupied by Israel.

2 ) ABE / USA
17/08/2014 21:42
I guess it's going to be a fight to the finish. As it should be after all these "wars"

3 ) mexica / mexico
17/08/2014 21:54
hamas needs more powerfull weapons.especially anti aircraft. and a bigger and more powerful missiles.

4 ) mexica / mexico
17/08/2014 22:00
the demilitarization should apply to the children killing israeli army. all arabs united and call for this criminal nuclear entity to disarm

5 ) Cicerone / Italy
17/08/2014 22:02
When Gaza truce talks resumed on Sunday Egyptian President Abdel Fatteh El-Sisi, Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas lined up in a solid phalanx against the Islamist Hamas-Islamic Jihad alliance. It is backed from the wings by Saudi King Abdullah and Russian President Vladimir Putin. Hamas is on the spot. Isolated from Arab world support, it must choose between accepting this line-up’s proposition and disarm or face up to a bitter war.

6 ) ABE / USA
18/08/2014 02:26
ISRAEL is stalling? Why because they are not giving in to Hamas demands? Hey here's a great idea Hamas why don't you just demilitarize! Stop stalling!,

7 ) Mobeen / Australia
18/08/2014 03:31

8 ) Cicerone / Italy
18/08/2014 08:46
The Egyptian and PA delegations slapped down an ultimatum for Hamas at the resumed Gaza truce negotiations in Cairo, Sunday. That Hamas was given the option of declaring a one-month ceasefire extension - or else the announcement would come from the Palestinian unity government in Ramallah.

9 ) 14 hours left / any bets whetherh
18/08/2014 09:52

10 ) Luke / USA
18/08/2014 14:58
Hamas negotiation: if you don't give in to our demands, we will sacrifice some more of our people!

11 ) Legal Eagle / Australia
18/08/2014 16:58
Palestine has an equal right to security. There won't be peace as long as Israel is enabled by the international community to continue its ILLEGAL OCCUPATION of Palestinian territories, and its ILLEGAL SIEGE of Gaza. Until international law is enforced, there will never be a just peace.

12 ) sylvia / uk
18/08/2014 18:40
Israel will give NOTHING in exchange for its own security - BUT - if it DOES agree to any concessions, it will TAKE THEM ALL BACK again when it has assurances of its security. Don't be fooled Hamas - remember the Shalit deal and how many of the released prisoners are back in jail.

13 ) Brian Cohen / Israel
18/08/2014 20:51
What a stupid article. Hamas does not want peace and does not want a truce with Israel. Hamas themselves say they will never sign a piece of paper on which Israel also signs, because they do not and will never recognize Israel. Their goal is death. Here, read it for yourselves: https://twitter.com/Qassam_English/statuses/500679981341478912 Hamas is like ISIS and Jabat al Nusra. Their goal is conquest and domination - or death. We will give them the death they want, because we choose life.

14 ) voice for Palestine / United Kingdom
18/08/2014 22:38
You zionist dogs, you notice a bird when it flying into gaza so how the hell can Hamas smuggle weapons/ bombs in to gaza. Do you think we are all brain dead like you Mr zionist terrorist israHELL prime minister. The majority of the world are against you. Will you kill us all? You can try. Fool.

15 ) angla / england
18/08/2014 23:13
irsaeli and usa uk need stop sell and buy for weapon for kill billion people died and take over palestine and iraqi etc land so need BACK OFF!!!

16 ) ABE / USA
18/08/2014 23:26
Hamas is stalling DEMILITARIZE!,

17 ) Outlier / USA
19/08/2014 02:39
11, more like legal dodo. Illegal siege? That is rich. Hamas has been attacking Israel with rockets for nearly a decade and the import restrictions are the consequence of those continuing attacks.

18 ) ian / australia
19/08/2014 08:18
G-d, the boggling deviousness of it all. Isn't Israel now demanding what the unity government was offering BEFORE the massacre, i.e., recognition of Israel and renunciation of violence? Except the new condition is "demilitarisation". The demands of Hamas are coherent, relatively modest and based in law. The Israeli demands make your brain hurt. Israel is armed to the teeth with a hi-tech arsenal supplied by the US with which it maintains a criminal occupation of a neighbour state, yet Hamas,

19 ) ian / australia
19/08/2014 08:19
(contd.) having endured a savage assault out of all proportion to any threat can't acquire ANY means of self defense from a sympathetic power. And "security" looms again as the BIG concern though the threat from the "rockets" (plumbing pipes fired by sugar and fertiliser) is infinitesimally small. Hamas is completely transparent with reasonable demands stated clearly but they are locked in battle with the most cunning and duplicitous entity which is clearly committed to relinquishing NOTHING.

20 ) Twitter Follower / World
19/08/2014 09:28
To disarm now would be madness, it would be handing Gaza, along with the rest of Palestine to Israel on a plate. Obvious each has its own agenda, Egypt, Abbas, et al. Stand firm Hamas & PIJ!!

21 ) Eesa / uk
19/08/2014 23:39
Hold on is this demilitrisation same as what the UN did in Bosnia???? Bosnians laid down there arms as requested by UN and then the serbs went in and killed the bosnians. Every country has the right to defend it self including Palestine and it should not give up it's weapons. If Israel would just give back the land it stole from the palestinians then there will be peace but israel refuses to give back land and expects everyone to accept that it's okay to steal land and get away with it.

22 ) Miriam / Palestine
20/08/2014 14:41
#Well said Eesa (21). But we are Palestinians, so the US & international community thinks we should just lie down & be killed, not defend ourselves & when we do (defend ourselves) we are called terrorists. This approach is colonialist & racist. Their mindsets need to change & see the reality, not the hasbara.

23 ) Maureen / Australia
21/08/2014 20:33
Zionist, colonial terrorists want ALL of Palestine, not peace!
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