Mashaal: Israel must end 'siege' for humanitarian cease-fire in Gaza

Speaking in Qatar, Hamas leader stipulates terms for agreeing to halt in fighting as ending Israeli "occupation" and for the Jewish state to "disarm".

Khaled Mashaal (photo credit: REUTERS)
Khaled Mashaal
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal on Wednesday said that his movement was ready for a “humanitarian” cease-fire with Israel.
However, Mashaal said that Hamas would not accept any cease-fire that ‘bypasses” the demands of the movement and other “resistance” groups in the Gaza Strip.
“There is no real breakthrough and many are still insisting on a cease-fire that would be later followed by negotiations,” he said.
At a press conference in Doha, Qatar, Mashaal also rejected demands for the disarmament of Hamas. He said that in order for this to happen, Israel would have to end “occupation” and disarm.
Mashaal called for lifting the siege that has been imposed on the Gaza Strip since 2006 and the reopening of the border crossings.
“Our demands for a truce are legitimate,” he said. “We have presented them to Qatar, Turkey, Egypt and the Palestinian Authority. Today we rejected an initiative that called for a cease-fire that would be followed by negotiations.”
Referring to the suspension of international flights to Israel, Mashaal said: “When you lay siege to our airspace, we lay siege to your airspace. The resistance is today in the Gaza Strip and tomorrow it is capable of surrounding you in the West Bank.”
The Hamas leader also called on the PA to end security coordination with Israel.
"Everyone wanted us to accept a ceasefire and then negotiate for our rights, we reject this and we reject it again today," he said at a news conference in Qatar.
But he said Hamas "will not close the door" to a humanitarian truce if Israel ended its siege of Gaza.
Addressing the Palestinians of the Gaza Strip, Mashaal said that he and other leaders of Hamas were prepared to die for the sake of ending the blockade.
Reuters contributed to this report.