The armed wing of the Palestinian Hamas group has dismissed an Egyptian ceasefire plan backed by Israel’s security cabinet.
The Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades said the proposal aimed at bringing to an end a week of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip and rocket attacks on Israel had not been discussed with the group – and it threatened more violence.
It said: “No official or unofficial side has approached us about the ceasefire talked about in the media … [but] if the contents of this proposal are true, it is a surrender and we reject it outright.
“Our battle with the enemy will intensify.”
Shortly after the truce was scheduled to begin on Tuesday morning, Israeli police said a rocket hit the southern town of Ashdod.
Israeli officials privately warned that the military offensive in Gaza would be ramped up if Hamas dismissed the plan and the attacks continued.
“As you know, the cabinet has accepted the Egyptian proposal,” an unnamed official told AP on condition of anonymity.
“If Hamas rejects it, Israel will continue and intensify its operations and Hamas will find itself totally isolated, including in the Arab world, which supports the proposal.”
The plan has been welcomed by US President Barack Obama and the Arab League.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas, who heads the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority, also welcomed the Egyptian initiative and urged both sides to stop fighting.
The Hamas government which controls the West Bank is yet to issue a formal response to the ceasefire, but a senior official in the group, Sami Abu Zuhri, said it was “not acceptable”… see more