Senior Hamas leader emerges, heads delegation to Cairo talks
Mahmoud Zahar, a senior Hamas leader, emerged for the first time in public Saturday since the beginning of Israeli onslaught in December, heading a Hamas delegation for ceasefire talks in Cairo, dpa reported.
The four-person delegation crossed into Egypt this afternoon through Rafah terminal on Gaza-Egypt border.
Earlier on the day, the Hamas movement said talks to broker a ceasefire agreement with Israel had not failed, adding it will send a delegation to Egypt to talk more on the issue.
Hamas had previously said it would give its final response to an Israeli offer for a ceasefire by Sunday. But Fawzi Barhoum, a spokesman for the movement which rules Gaza Strip, said several Hamas officials may visit Cairo on Sunday to hear responses to questions Hamas had sent to Israel earlier via the Egyptian mediators.
A six-month Egyptian-brokered ceasefire took effect last June, but after it expired, Gaza militants struck Israel with dozens of rockets and Israel responded with a massive offensive against the Gaza Strip on December 27, killing more than 1,300 people.
The closure of the Gaza Strip took effect on June 2007 after Hamas seized control of the coastal territory from security forces loyal to Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas of the rival Fatah group.Israel cites the absence of the Palestinian Authority (PA) role on the crossings to keeps the restrictions on the flow of cargo.