As Israeli troops continued to pound the Gaza Strip on Friday, January 16, Hamas has offered a year-long truce with Israel if it withdraws troops from the bombed-out strip.
"We are waiting for an answer from Egypt after they talk to (Israeli envoy) Amos Gilad," Hamas deputy chief Mussa Abu Marzuk told Agence France-Presse (AFP).
A Western diplomat confirmed that a Hamas delegation had proposed a year-long renewable truce with Israel during talks with Egyptian officials.
But the diplomat said that Israeli officials have expressed reservations at Hamas’s offer.
A Hamas official had said on Wednesday that Hamas had accepted the "broad outlines" of an Egyptian truce plan without approving it outright.
The three-point plan calls for an immediate, time-limited ceasefire, during which border crossings will be opened for humanitarian aid, according to Haaretz.
It also calls for talks for a long-term truce, which would include provisions on both border security and an end to Israel’s months-long siege on Gaza.
The plan also envisages reconciliation talks between Hamas and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah.
Israel sent back Gilad, a senior aide to Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to Egypt for further talks on the Egyptian plan after a four-hour round of talks on Thursday with Egyptian intelligence chief Omar Suleiman.
Suleiman — Egypt’s pointman on Israel-Palestinian affairs — has been holding separate talks with Hamas and Israeli officials to find a consensus for a ceasefire.
At least 1133 people have been killed and more than 5200 wounded in a three-week deadly Israeli offensive in Gaza.
Israel conditions ending the deadly blitz on halting rocket fire from Gaza and creating a mechanism to prevent smuggling into the strip.
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni was due in Washington on Friday to conclude a US-Israeli agreement on measures aimed at preventing smuggling into Gaza.
Israeli troops continued to pound the Gaza Strip on Friday for the 21 consecutive days.
A 14-year-old Palestinian boy was killed and several people were wounded in an Israeli air strike on the Shabura refugee camp in southern Gaza, reported Haaretz.
Israeli planes also attacked 40 targets across the densely-populated strip on Friday.
In the pre-dawn hours, Israeli tanks withdrew from the Gaza City neighborhood of Tal Al-Hawa, where clashes leveled parts of the residential area and set a hospital ablaze.
At least 23 bodies were pulled from the rubble in Tal Al-Hawa and elsewhere.
The new Israeli attacks came shortly after Palestinian interior minister in Gaza Said Seyyam was killed in an air strike in Gaza late Thursday.
"The blood of Said Seyyam will be a curse on the Zionist entity," Hamas official Mohammed Nazzal told Al-Jazeera television.
Seyyam’s son, his brother and three other people were also killed in the attack that flattened a rented house in the Jabalya refugee camp and gouged a huge crater in the ground.
Four other people died in a neighboring house, medics said.
Local television in Gaza showed Seyyam’s body being brought to a hospital, his face still recognizable and his eyes open.
(IslamOnline.net and Agencies)