Hamas Official: Truce With Israel on Gaza Within SightBy VOA News
16 June 2008
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (File photo)Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh says the militant group and Israel may be close to signing a truce in the Gaza Strip.
Mr. Haniyeh told a gathering in Gaza Monday that ceasefire negotiations in Egypt were nearing an end, and that the pact would encompass both Gaza and the West Bank.
Egyptian mediators have been trying for months to persuade the two sides to stop fighting in and around Gaza and to agree on a prisoner exchange.
The Hamas delegation left Cairo today following two days of negotiations. Officials say some members of the delegation were headed to Damascus for consultations with senior Hamas officials there.
Hours after Mr. Haniyeh spoke, Hamas militants launched a rocket that landed in the Israeli port city of Ashkelon.
Israeli officials say one civilian was wounded.
Israel wants Gaza militants to release a captive Israeli soldier, and it demands that Hamas stop the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. Hamas wants Israel to lift its blockade of Gaza and free hundreds of Palestinian militants.
Israel has said it could launch a military offensive in Gaza if the truce talks fail.