Hamas says truce with Israel is near
Officials of the Palestinian group also indicate a prisoner swap, including Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, is in the works.
New reports out of the Middle East indicate that Hamas and Israel are nearing agreements on both a new truce between the two and a prisoner swap that would free Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, who was seized by Hamas in 2006.Skip to next paragraph
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Agence France-Presse (AFP) writes that, according to a report from Egypt's Middle East News Agency, Hamas has accepted a truce between the Gaza-based Islamist group and Israel. Egypt, which brokered the deal, will announce the agreement after contacting Israel and the two Palestinian factions, Hamas and Fatah.
"We have agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for a year and a half (in return) for the opening of all six passages between the Gaza Strip and Israel," Hamas's deputy leader Mussa Abu Marzuk said late Thursday....
Israel has yet to comment. Israel imposed a crippling blockade of Gaza after Hamas seized control of the territory in a week of vicious street battles in June 2007, ousting Fatah loyalists of Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas.
Ending the blockade has been a key Hamas demand and the reason it says it launched rockets and mortar rounds into Israel after another Egyptian brokered six-month truce that expired in December.
AFP adds that a pair of short-range rockets were launched from Gaza into Israel soon after the report was made, though the Israeli army reports no one was hurt.
Reuters reports that the truce would involve opening the border between Egypt and Gaza as well. The crossing would be overseen by international monitors and border security which would report to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, leader of Fatah, which controls the West Bank. Reuters also writes that Amos Gilad, Israel's representative in the talks, may return to Egypt as soon as Saturday for further discussion, and the truce could be finalized as soon as Sunday.