14 Jan 2009

Hamas unhappy with Gaza truce proposal by Egypt

6:09 am on 14 January 2009

Efforts to reach a ceasefire in Gaza hit a snag on Tuesday, with Hamas saying it had "substantial observations" to make on an proposal by Egypt.

Senior Hamas official Moussa Abu Marzouq told Al Jazeera television any ceasefire proposal must address the group's demands for an Israeli withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and a complete opening of border crossings.

A Hamas delegation is in Cairo to relay the group's position to Egyptian officials.

The Egyptian proposal calls for a temporary truce, followed by a long ceasefire and the opening of border crossings with the presence of the Palestinian Authority of President Mahmoud Abbas, whose forces were driven out of Gaza by Hamas in 2007.

The third phase deals with efforts to reconcile Hamas and Fatah.

Lebanese political sources close to Hamas reported on Monday that the movement would reject Egypt's proposals.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon demanded on Monday that Israel and Hamas stop fighting immediately.

Israel began an aerial offensive on 27 December after Hamas ended a ceasfire on 19 December. Israeli ground forces entered Gaza on 3 January.

The Health Ministry in Gaza says the Palestinian death toll is now 952.