Hamas official says no new truce deal, efforts ongoing
Published Thursday 17/07/2014 (updated) 19/07/2014 01:25
A Palestinian boy rides his bicycle past a damaged building
following an Israeli air strike which preceded a five-hour truce,
on July 17, 2014 in Gaza City.(AFP/Mohammed Abed)
GAZA CITY (AFP) -- A Hamas official denied a ceasefire deal with Israel has been reached, rejecting claims from an Israeli official that they had agreed to halt fire early Friday.
"The news about a ceasefire is incorrect. There are continuing efforts but no agreement until now," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP on Thursday.
The denial came after an Israeli official who spoke to AFP on condition of anonymity said Israel had agreed a ceasefire with Hamas that would begin at 6 a.m. on Friday.
The conflicting reports come only days after Israel announced the collapse of a ceasefire deal brokered by Egypt on Thursday, after Hamas officials said that they had not been informed of the agreement and had only learned through the media.
Israel used Hamas' denials to blame the group for violating the ceasefire, and subsequently announced an expanded incursion into the Gaza Strip.
A temporary five-hour humanitarian ceasefire was still in force on Thursday afternoon, despite Israeli airstrikes earlier in the day that killed eight Palestinians and the firing of three rockets by Palestinian militants into Israel.
That ceasefire was proposed by the UN special envoy for United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process after Israeli shelling killed four children playing on a beach near Gaza City, leading to international outcry.
Gaza-based rights groups have reported that around 80 percent of the 230 Palestinians killed have been civilians, while 1,678 have been injured according to Gaza medical authorities.