Hamas leader ties truce to end of Gaza blockade

Hamas leader

The leader of Islamic militant group Hamas has said there can be no ceasefire to ease the conflict in Gaza without an end to Israel’s blockade.

Khaled Meshaal said Hamas would continue to reject a lasting ceasefire until its conditions were met.

His comments come amid further Israeli air strikes and ground operations in Gaza.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

At least 649 Palestinians and 31 Israelis have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say

Earlier, the UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

hamas leader2

Khaled Meshaal said Hamas would not agree to a ceasefire until the terms had been negotiated

She also condemned Hamas for “indiscriminate attacks” on Israel.

Humanitarian truce

In addition to lifting the eight-year economic blockade, Mr Meshaal’s list of demands also included the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

“We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” Khaled Meshaal told reporters at a news conference in Qatar on Wednesday.

The leader of Islamic militant group Hamas has said there can be no ceasefire to ease the conflict in Gaza without an end to Israel’s blockade.

Khaled Meshaal said Hamas would continue to reject a lasting ceasefire until its conditions were met.

His comments come amid further Israeli air strikes and ground operations in Gaza.

Israel launched its military offensive on 8 July with the declared objective of stopping rocket fire from Gaza.

At least 649 Palestinians and 31 Israelis have been killed in the past 15 days of fighting, officials say

Earlier, the UN’s top human rights official, Navi Pillay, condemned Israel’s military actions in Gaza.

She also condemned Hamas for “indiscriminate attacks” on Israel.

Humanitarian truce

In addition to lifting the eight-year economic blockade, Mr Meshaal’s list of demands also included the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt and the release of Palestinian prisoners.

“We will not accept any initiative that does not lift the blockade on our people and that does not respect their sacrifices,” Khaled Meshaal told reporters at a news conference in Qatar on Wednesday.

But, he added, the group would not “close the door” to a humanitarian truce, saying: “We need the calm for a few hours to evacuate the wounded and assist in [aid] relief.”

Mr Meshaal appealed to the international community to help bring medicine, fuel and other supplies into Gaza.

Israel imposed restrictions on the Gaza Strip in 2006 after Hamas abducted Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit. The measures were tightened by Israel and Egypt in 2007 after Hamas ousted rival Fatah and forcibly took control in Gaza after winning elections the year before.

Hamas and Fatah announced a reconciliation deal in April, but the move was condemned by Israel which regards Hamas as a terrorist group.