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Middle East

Hamas vows no truce until demands are met

Group's negotiators in Egypt say Israel must lift blockade of Gaza Srip and reopen seaport and airport amid more deaths.

Last updated: 09 Aug 2014 23:01
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The Palestinian group Hamas has reiterated that there will be no new ceasefire until Israel meets their demands, defying attempts by Egypt to broker a new deal amid renewed fighting.

"We are not going to agree to a ceasefire without having all of our demands met," Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoem said in a statement to Al Jazeera.

"We will not go back. We are going to continue the war until we achieve our goal. This is what our people want."

Barhoem said Israel's "intransigence will get it nowhere" and Hamas will make no concessions.

Among the reported demands of Hamas are the lifting of the Israeli blockade in Gaza, and the reopening of its seaport and airport.

On Saturday, Chris Gunness, the spokesman for the UN agency for Palestinian refugees (UNRWA), joined calls for an end to the seven-year blockade.

"Huge swathes of Gaza have been levelled. We cannot rebuild it with our hands tied behind our backs," he said. 

"The blockade must end. We are beyond the realm of humanitarian action alone. All those directly and indirectly responsible for the carnage and destruction must engage."

Speaking to Reuters news agency on condition of anonymity, an Israeli official said Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu had no plans to send negotiators back to Cairo "as long as the shooting goes on."

The month-long conflict flared again after mediators tried but failed to extend a ceasefire that expired on Friday morning and which Israel accused Hamas of breaching with pre-dawn rocket attacks.

Fighting between Israel and Hamas has now killed at least 1,914 Palestinians, including at least seven people in Gaza as of late Saturday afternoon.

A total of 64 Israeli soldiers and three civilians on the Israeli side have also been killed since Israel began its offensive on July 8.

In the Egyptian capital Cairo, the foreign ministry called on both sides "to return immediately to the ceasefire and exploit the opportunity available to resume negotiations on the very limited sticking points that remain in the fastest possible time".

Egypt mediates the talks but is meeting separately with each party. Israel and Hamas deny each other's legitimacy, with Hamas rejecting Israel's right to exist and Israel rejecting Hamas as a "terrorist organisation."

Egyptian mediators are waiting to hear back from the Israelis after Shabbat, the Jewish sabbath, ends at sundown on Saturday.

Houses and mosques hit

As negotiations stall, Israeli warplanes pounded targets in Gaza on Saturday, killing at least seven people, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Gaza Under Attack: One Month On

Two people were killed in a strike that "targeted a motorbike in the al-Maghazi camp" and another three bodies were pulled from the rubble "of the al-Qassam mosque that was bombed by planes" in the Nuseirat camp, spokesman Ashraf al-Qudra said.

Gaza's Ministry of Health also reported that two people were killed as Israeli drones hit a car in Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Al Jazeera's Simmons reported that six houses were targeted overnight along with three mosques.

"Al-Qassam mosque was completely destroyed," he said.

At least five rockets were fired from Gaza in the morning, our correspondent also reported.

Five Palestinians were killed and at least 31 others wounded in Friday's air strikes, said Qudra. Among the dead was a 10-year-old boy.

Some Palestinian families who had returned home during the 72-hour truce trickled back to shelter in UN-run schools as fighting resumed.

In the al-Tuffah district of Gaza City, hundreds of refugees were seen living in classrooms, laundry hanging off balconies and a scrum of people queuing for UN food handouts.

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Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
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