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Analysis

Hamas denies it offered Israel a temporary ceasefire

Gaza-based group says there is no truth to report it is prepared to lay down arms for up to five years

Illustrative: The Israel-Gaza border, from the Israeli side, with rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel, August 20, 2014. (Albert Sadikov/Flash90)
Illustrative: The Israel-Gaza border, from the Israeli side, with rockets being fired by Palestinian terrorists from the Gaza Strip into Israel, August 20, 2014. (Albert Sadikov/Flash90)

Hamas on Monday scrambled to deny a Times of Israel report that it had offered Israel a temporary ceasefire.

Sami Abu Zuhri, a spokesman for the terrorist group, denied that Hamas had proposed a lull in fighting for a period of 3-5 years in return for Israel lifting its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

Abu Zuhri noted that certain international authorities had suggested the idea but that Hamas had not responded.

However, a second, unnamed source in the organization said that Hamas had notified international intermediaries that it was not opposed to a similar kind of deal for 3-5 years, but noted that the initiative did not come from Hamas, and that Israeli officials had not responded to it anyway.

Hamas recently sent a series of messages to Israel indicating interest in a long-term ceasefire lasting for several years, in exchange for an end to the Israeli blockade on the Gaza Strip, sources told The Times of Israel.

Senior Hamas officials met with Western diplomats about the ceasefire, and also reached a number of understandings about the character of the ceasefire, also known as a tahdiyya, according to the report.

A senior Hamas official confirmed that a number of meetings have been held between the organization’s leaders and a number of figures, including businessmen and diplomats.

During the talks, Hamas officials emphasized that they were willing to agree on a ceasefire of at least five years (though some sources said the offer was for 15 years), during which time all military activities “above and below ground” from both parties would end. At the same time, the blockade on Gaza would be removed, including restrictions on exports, and Israel would allow the construction of a seaport and an airport.

An Israeli source also confirmed that the offer was presented to Israeli officials.

Israel and Hamas fought a 50-day war last summer in the Gaza Strip. More than 2,000 Palestinians were killed during the summer war, according to UN figures, which said most of them were civilians. Israel said some 1,000 of the fatalities were Hamas operatives and other gunmen, and blamed Hamas for all civilian casualties, arguing that the group attacked Israel from within residential areas.

Hamas and other terror groups fired over 4,500 rockets and projectiles at Israel and staged several deadly attacks against IDF soldiers through cross-border tunnels. Seventy-three people on the Israeli side, most of them soldiers, were killed during the operation.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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