Hamas chief insists on Gaza ceasefire

AFP , Ahram Online , Saturday 17 Feb 2024

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Saturday reiterated the group's demand of a complete ceasefire in Gaza, a day after US President Joe Biden called for a "temporary truce" to secure the release of hostages.

This handout picture provided by the Iranian foreign ministry shows Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh preparing to welcome the Iranian Foreign Minister in Doha. AFP


High-level negotiations to pause the Israeli war on Gaza were held this week in Cairo but their outcome is still unclear.

In a statement issued on Saturday, Haniyeh blamed Israel for a lack of progress in achieving a ceasefire deal in Gaza. 

"The movement deals with the ongoing negotiations in a positive spirit and with high responsibility," he said in a statement. 

Hamas's leader reiterated the group's demands, including an end to fighting in Gaza.

"The resistance will not agree to anything less than a ceasefire, withdrawing of the occupying army from the Strip, lifting the oppressive blockade, and providing safe shelter for the displaced people," he said.

Haniyeh insisted that those displaced from the north be returned to their areas in the territory. He also called for the release of Hamas prisoners sentenced to long jail terms in Israel.

On Friday Biden called for a temporary truce in Gaza to get captives out of the Palestinian territory under a potential deal swapping them for prisoners held in Israel.

"I feel very strongly about it -- that there has to be a temporary ceasefire to get the prisoners out, to get the hostages out," Biden said from the White House.

He added that he had held "extensive" conversations with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on this and negotiations were "underway".

Netanyahu had previously rejected what he labelled Hamas's "bizarre demands".

Earlier this week CIA director William Burns joined talks in Cairo with David Barnea, head of Israel's Mossad intelligence service. These talks were mediated by Egypt and Qatar.

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