Hamas activist killed as Israel considering truce talks offer
Israeli troops killed a Hamas activist during a clash near the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younis on Friday, medical workers said, according to Reuters. On Thursday, Israeli forces killed seven Palestinian fighters during an incursion into the Strip.
Meanwhile, Israel is examining a Hamas truce offer delivered by Egypt, defense officials said. According to the AP, a Hamas official said the offer was part of the movement's attempts to reach out not only to Israel, but also to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.
Israeli Infrastructure Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said Friday that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert may consider talks with Hamas on a long-term cease-fire. But, as part of such a deal, Hamas must also cease smuggling arms into the Gaza Strip and open talks for the release of an Israeli soldier, Cpl. Gilad Shalit, captured last year, Ben-Eliezer said.
"The prime minister I know doesn't totally rule anything out," Ben-Eliezer told Israel Radio. "If a serious, realistic proposal is put on the table and Hamas is willing to discuss a long-term cease-fire and is willing to stop the terror, to stop the smuggling and is willing to open talks on the release of Gilad Shalit, I would go to negotiations."
Olmert's office reiterated Friday that Israel is not currently holding talks with Hamas and would only consider them if the latter renounces violence, recognizes the Jewish state and accepts peace agreements.
On his part, Hamas official Salah Bardawil said: "All the Palestinians are in a crisis; not Hamas," Bardawil said. "We are not lovers of war. We love our rights. If we can get them through a truce, that would be an achievement."