Israel on April 25 rejected a Hamas offer for a six-month truce in the Gaza Strip that could be extended to the occupied West Bank. “Hamas is biding time in order to rearm and regroup,” government spokesman David Baker reportedly said. He said Israel would halt attacks in Gaza if rocket fire from the territory was ceased. “[But] Israel will continue to act to protect its citizens,” he said in apparent reference to Israeli air strikes and commando raids in the strip.
Hamas on April 24 had agreed to a ceasefire in Gaza first to be extended to the West Bank within six months. “The movement has agreed for a period of calm in Gaza in the framework of a national consensus, which would be extended to the West Bank after six months,” Hamas said in a statement read by former foreign minister Mahmoud Al-Zahar in Cairo.
Israel has rejected Hamas proposals for a truce including an end to rocket fire into Israel and to Israeli assaults. Israel and its ally the United States refuse to deal with Hamas before it accepts the Quartet’s conditions on recognizing Israel and renounce “violence”. Hamas said that the ceasefire offer must include the lifting of Israel’s crippling siege on Gaza, home to 1.6 million Palestinians. “The period of calm must be reciprocal and concurrent; there must be a lifting of the blockade and the opening of the border crossings, including the Rafah crossing, to take place when the calming takes effect,” said Zahar.