Hamas rejects Israel’s ceasefire response, sticks to main demands


(Reuters) – The Palestinian Islamist group Hamas has rejected an Israeli ceasefire proposal, saying on Saturday it had handed to mediators in Egypt and Qatar its response to the proposal it had received last Monday.
After more than six months of war with Israel in Gaza, the negotiations remain deadlocked, with Hamas sticking to its demands that any agreement must end the war.
“We.. reaffirm our adherence to our demands and the national demands of our people; with a permanent ceasefire, the withdrawal of the occupation army from the entire Gaza Strip, the return of the displaced to their areas and places of residence, intensification of the entry of relief and aid, and the start of reconstruction,” the Islamist faction said.

Israel wants to secure the return of hostages seized by Hamas in its Oct. 7 attack that triggered the war, but says it will not stop fighting until Hamas is destroyed as a military force. It also says it still plans to carry out an assault on the southern Gaza city of Rafah, where more than a million civilians have taken refuge.

Hamas said on Saturday it was ready to conclude a prisoners-for-hostages swap deal with Israel that would see the release of 133 hostages still believed to be held in Gaza in return for hundreds of Palestinians jailed in Israel.

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