No truce unless Israel lifts Gaza blockade: Hamas

May 24, 2008 - 0:0

GAZA CITY (AFP) -- Hamas insisted there would be no Gaza truce unless Israel lifts its blockade of the territory, where a resistance fighters was killed in a failed suicide truck bombing near the main border crossing.

""The Palestinian groups will not give a truce to Israel if Israel does not accept our demand to end the closure, open borders and stop aggression,"" Hamas official Ismail Haniya said in a statement.
Haniya, a former Palestinian prime minister, said the Hamas delegation was returning from Cairo where Egypt has been battling to mediate a truce in Gaza between Israel and the Palestinians.
Israel has made agreement to a truce conditional on progress in negotiations for the release of Gilad Shalit, an Israeli soldier captured almost two years ago by Gaza resistance fighters in a deadly cross-border raid.
Hamas wants some 450 Palestinian prisoners released from Israeli jails in exchange for Shalit, and insists the swap is an entirely separate issue from the proposed truce.
Violence in and around the Gaza Strip has clouded renewed peace negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians, increasing doubts that they will achieve their stated aim of reaching a deal by the end of the year.
A Palestinian resistance fighters died on Thursday in a failed suicide attack when the explosives-laden truck he was driving blew up just short the Erez border crossing between Gaza and Israel.
Islamic Jihad said the bomber, Ibrahim Nasser, 23, was a member of its armed wing, the Al Quds Brigade.
It said the truck, which was packed with 400 kilos (almost 900 pounds) of explosives, blew up earlier than planned a few hundred metres (yards) from the border crossing.
There were no reports of Israeli casualties.
The powerful explosion damaged buildings on the Palestinian side of the border and Palestinians shot at Israeli troops at the crossing without hitting anyone, Israeli public radio said.
Other armed Palestinian resistance fighters who followed the truck fled after their car rolled over, witnesses said. Israel's army radio said the car was targeted by an military helicopter and that several militants were hit.
In another incident, 62-year-old Salem Al-Bahabsa, was killed by Israeli troops near Bureij, in central Gaza, according to Palestinian emergency services.
Israeli forces launch almost daily attacks against resistance fighters in Gaza, where Hamas seized power in June, ousting forces loyal to moderate Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Israel says it maintains the crippling blockade of the territory in a bid to forcing militants to stop firing rockets and mortar rounds at the Jewish state.
Thursday's deaths brought to at least 477 the number of people killed since Israel and the Palestinians relaunched peace talks in November, the vast majority of them Gaza resistance fighters, according to an AFP count.