Exiled Hamas leader: we will refuse a truce unless gaza blockade lifted
Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal gave a press conference on Wednesday evening to speak about the latest developments in efforts to end the bloody fighting in the Gaza Strip – but said that any truce must include opening Gaza's borders and ending the more than seven-year-long blockade imposed by Israel on the Palestinian strip.
Striking a defiant tone, he said that Gaza is fighting an occupying force and that the Palestinians are "the true owners of the land."
He said Hamas cannot abandon its terms in a cease-fire agreement – but can accept a humanitarian truce that is supported by a genuine relief program for the besieged Gaza Strip.
Meshaal spoke from exile to reporters in the Qatari capital Doha.
Israeli troops battled Hamas fighters on Wednesday near a southern Gaza town as US Secretary of State John Kerry reported progress in efforts to end fighting that has so far killed more than 680 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.
"We are not against a mediation role played by one, but we are against any agreement that does not accept our demands," Meshaal said.
"Many officials called us to accept the ceasefire and then talk about our demands, but this proved a failure several times before."
The leader of the Islamist movement mentioned ending the blockade on Gaza as the most important demand. He asserted that all Palestinian faction agrees with Hamas in its prerequisites for a ceasefire.
"The Palestinian resistance will continue to protect our land and people and we will end the blockade," he stated.
Meshaal urged Kerry and UN chief Ban Ki-moon to visit Gaza as the two leaders had visited the West Bank because the people of Gaza will have the "final say" over the ceasefire, he said.