Hamas accuses Israel as Gaza hostilities resume
Israeli talks delegation returns from Cairo to Jerusalem
Palestinian protesters hurl stones at Israeli soldiers during clashes at Bet Forik checkpoint near the West Bank city of Nablus, yesterday, during a protest against Israel attacks on the Gaza Strip. Photograph: EPA
Hamas has said it renewed its rocket fire from Gaza yesterday because its negotiators in Cairo believed Israel was “dragging its feet”. The Israeli delegation at the talks in Egypt, which were aimed at reaching an accord to end the conflict, flew back to Jerusalem yesterday, leaving the Palestinian delegation to continue talks with Egyptian brokers.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said yesterday: “We have not yet received a document with the Israeli answer to our demands. [On Thursday] we received a memorandum of understanding from the Egyptian side and this document did not respond to any of our requests. There was no explicit mention of lifting of the siege.
“We think Israel is dragging its feet. They did not respond to our demands and have done nothing to show that there is a reason to extend the ceasefire. Now all options are open.
‘In Israeli hands’“However, the door to continued conversations is not closed. The decision to comply with our requirement is in Israeli hands.” Palestinian delegation head and Fatah figure Azzam al-Ahmed stated: “We are not for escalation. We are ready to continue negotiating through our Egyptian brothers to reach a final agreement that would restore the rights [of Gazans by] lifting the blockade.” He said Palestinian delegates are united behind the decision to end the ceasefire until their demands are met.
Egyptian mediators urged the sides to re-engage. “The foreign ministry calls on all sides to rise to their responsibilities . . . and to return immediately to the ceasefire commitment and exploit the opportunity available to resume in the fastest possible time negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain.”
In addition to an end of Gaza’s isolation, Hamas wants the release of 125 prisoners and the opening of a port in Gaza as well as the rebuilding of the airport. In renewed fighting yesterday, five Palestinians were killed, 31 wounded and three Israelis injured