Israeli Sderot Mayor Urges Ceasefire, Hamas Ready

An Israeli mayor has called for talks with Hamas to halt rocket firing into his rocket-battered town, as Hamas reiterated again its readiness for a ceasefire with Israel.

"I would say to Hamas, let’s have a ceasefire," Sderot Mayor Eli Moyal told the Guardian on Saturday, February 23.

"Let’s stop the rockets for the next 10 years and we will see what happens."

Palestinian fighters frequently fire rocket into Sderot in response to incessant Israeli attacks.

In the past seven years, some 4,000 rockets were fired into Sderot and 400 since January alone.

This has left most of its residents living in constant fear.

In December, a survey showed that two-thirds of respondents wanted to move out of Sderot.

"For me as a person the most important thing is life and I’m ready to do everything for that. I’m ready to talk to the devil," said Moyal, a member of the rightwing Likud party.

The mayor said that he was approached by an Israeli mediator to talk to Hamas in Egypt but the meeting was never held.

"I believe that if they call me again I will be ready to do it. I will do the best I can to have that meeting."

Hamas Ready

The Palestinian resistance group, meanwhile, reaffirmed readiness to reach a ceasefire with Israel, reported Haaretz.

Spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said they will not rule out any initiative for a ceasefire to halt Israeli attacks in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas has responded positively to an initiative tabled by the French foreign minister during a recent visit to Israel to negotiate a ceasefire between the two sides.

The Palestinian group has repeatedly offered an long-term ceasefire deal in return for an end to Israeli aggressions against the Palestinian people and a halt to assassination of their resistance leaders.

Israel has stepped up its offensives against the Hamas-ruled territory, shutting vital border crossings and restricting basic supplies.

Last month Israel began reducing fuel and electricity supplies to the Strip, home to 1.6 million people, raising fears of a humanitarian crisis.

Abu Zuhri welcomed a resolution by the European parliament on Thursday, February 21, calling Israel to lift the blockade as European countries have piled pressures on Tel Aviv over the unfolding humanitarian crisis.

"We are highly appreciative of the initiative and the call made by the EU parliament to end the siege imposed on Gaza," he said.

"We consider this an important development in the European attitude."

Human Rights Watch said in its January report that Israel’s crippling blockade is a collective punishment of the civilian population of the small, overcrowded territory.
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