Hamas 'rejects ceasefire proposal'

Hamas 'rejects ceasefire proposal'

Hamas has rejected an Egyptian proposal for a ceasefire with Israel, a senior official with the Palestinian militant group said today.

Sami Abu Zuhri spoke soon after Israel accepted the offer.

He told the Associated Press: “This proposal is not acceptable.”

The Egyptian plan called for hostilities to end this morning, followed by negotiations on easing the border blockade of Gaza.

The territory has been under a blockade by Egypt and Israel since Hamas seized Gaza in 2007.

The Israeli Cabinet accepted the proposal for a ceasefire to end a week of conflict with Hamas militants in the Gaza Strip that has killed 185 Palestinians and exposed millions of Israelis to Hamas rocket fire.

The office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the Cabinet met this morning and accepted the proposal, which went into effect at 9am local time.

It calls for a ceasefire to begin within 12 hours of “unconditional acceptance” by the sides, followed by the opening of Gaza’s border crossings and talks in Cairo within two days.

Israel launched the offensive last Tuesday, saying it was responding to weeks of rocket fire out of the Hamas-ruled territory.

The Israeli military later said Gaza militants fired three rockets at Israel after the deadline passed for the start of the proposed ceasefire.

The military said the missiles were fired at empty land near the southern Israeli city of Ashkelon and caused no casualties or damage.

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