Hamas blames Israel for Gaza truce delay

CAIRO Wed Nov 21, 2012 2:16am IST

Smoke rises after what witnesses was said an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 20, 2012. REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Smoke rises after what witnesses was said an Israeli air strike in Gaza City November 20, 2012.

Credit: Reuters/Mohammed Salem

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CAIRO (Reuters) - A Hamas official said on Tuesday that Egyptian efforts to broker a truce with Israel had been held up because the Israeli government had yet to respond to proposals, indicating there would be no ceasefire until Wednesday at the earliest.

"The Israeli side has not responded yet, so we will not hold a (news) conference this evening and must wait until tomorrow," Ezzat al-Rishq, a senior Hamas leader, told Reuters. "The truce is now held up because we are waiting for the Israeli side to respond," he added in a short telephone interview.

An Egyptian official had earlier said Cairo was hopeful of an agreement on Tuesday following a statement by Ayman Taha, another Hamas official that said a ceasefire had been reached and would go into effect within hours.

Osama Hamdan, another leading Hamas official, later confirmed that no agreement had been reached.

"The situation to this point is that there is no agreement Our people and our resistance are ready for all possibilities," he told Al Jazeera television, speaking from Beirut.

"The resistance is capable of continuing and we have surprises," he said. "We insist on (our) conditions for a truce."

(Reporting by Marwa Awad and Ali Abdelatti; Writing by Tom Perry; Editing by Jon Hemming)

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