Hamas, in rejecting Egyptian truce bid, slams ‘Arab betrayal’

Islamist group’s spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri says proposal only addressed Israeli interests, not Palestinian conditions

Elhanan Miller is the former Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. (AP/Hatem Moussa)
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri. (AP/Hatem Moussa)

Hamas has officially informed Egypt of its refusal to its ceasefire initiative, a Hamas spokesman said Wednesday evening.

Speaking to the press in Gaza, Sami Abu Zuhri said the Egyptian initiative presented on Monday satisfied none of the Palestinian demands, and would have returned the situation on the ground to “the starting point.”

“Anyone with a ceasefire initiative guaranteeing the Palestinian conditions should come and speak to us; Hamas will never accept an initiative that does not address these conditions,” he said, adding that “the [Israeli] occupation only responds under pressure.”

Abu Zuhri did not spell out Hamas’s conditions for a ceasefire, but the movement’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din Al-Qassam Brigades, has previously indicated that those would include an immediate halt of Israeli operations, the opening of the Rafah border crossing with Egypt, the payment of salaries to thousands of Hamas civil servants, and an easing of the Israeli blockade on Gaza.

Hamas’s outright rejection of the Egyptian proposal dispelled earlier reports whereby Hamas had agreed to a 10-year ceasefire in return for Israeli concessions.

“Netanyahu’s threats and those of the occupation don’t scare Hamas,” Abu Zuhri said, adding that “the occupation will pay the price for the pure blood that it has spilled.”

He also lambasted Arab leaders for forsaking the people of Gaza.

“There is no official Arab activity to rescue Gaza,” he was reported by Hamas website Al-Resalah as saying. “We feel greatly betrayed by official Arab regimes; we have encountered no real official Arab position.”

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