Hamas official says truce to become active on Thursday
Senior Islamic Hamas leader Mahmoud
al-Zahar announced on Tuesday that a ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians would become active by Thursday 6:00 am local time, dpa reported.
He told a news conference held at his house in Gaza city that "the Palestinian people and the Palestinian factions agreed upon a bilateral ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinians."
"This ceasefire, upon what was agreed upon will be for six months in the Gaza Strip, while Egypt will try to implement a similar ceasefire agreement in the West Bank within six months," said al- Zahar.
Egypt has been mediating truce talks between Israel and Gaza militant groups led by the Islamic Hamas movement. Israel would ease a one-year blockade and stop its operations to halt homemade rocket attacks from Gaza on Israel.
"A few hours after the ceasefire becomes active, Israel would ease the sanctions it imposed on the Gaza Strip several months ago, including fuels, medicines and food supplies," said al-Zahar.
Immediately after the Hamas movement took control of the Gaza Strip in mid June last year, Israel termed the Gaza Strip a hostile entity and tightened its blockade by cutting off fuel supplies into the enclave.
Al-Zahar told reporters that a few days after the ceasefire agreement is implemented on Thursday, Israel would reopen all border crossing points that were closed down by Israel after Hamas took control of the enclave.
Meanwhile, senior Hamas leader Khalil al-Hayya, who attended the news conference, told reporters that one week after the truce is implemented, Egypt will work with the parties to reopen the Rafah border crossing.
Al-Zahar said that Egypt would invite representatives of the Hamas movement, the Palestinian presidency of Mahmoud Abbas and European Union representatives to talk about the arrangements to open the crossing.
He also said that Hamas told the Egyptians that it would escalate the process of the prisoners' exchange, adding "we are committed before the families of the prisoners to escalate the efforts to free prisoners for the abducted Israeli soldier."