Events in the Legally Recognized Occupied Territories

August 17, 2014

The following is an excerpt from the article "Hamas says Israel stalling on agreement as Gaza death toll hits 2016" published by the Ma'an News Agency on August 17, 2014

GAZA CITY (Ma'an) – A Hamas spokesman on Sunday accused Israel of "stalling" in ongoing negotiations in Cairo to achieve a long-term truce in Gaza, stressing that "the ball is in the Israeli occupation's court."

Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said during a march in solidarity with Palestinian resistance in Rafah that the group's "priority is to reach an agreement, but the occupiers must stop stalling."

"We are discussing an agreement from a position of strength, not weakness," he said, adding: "Either we have an agreement that meets our demands, or no agreement."

"Israelis will not enjoy safety until our people do and the siege is completely lifted. (Israelis in the south) will only return home when Hamas allows them to, not when Netanyahu does," he said.

Israel "must be ready for the consequences of the failure to agree," he added.

The remarks come on the fourth day of a five-day temporary ceasefire in the hostilities that began more than five weeks ago with a massive Israeli aerial assault on Gaza that was followed by a major ground invasion.

On Sunday, medical authorities in Gaza said that the total death toll of the assault in Gaza had hit 2,016 and more than 10,193 injured, as dozens more Palestinians succumbed to wounds sustained during the bombardment.

Gaza-based spokesman for the Ministry of Health Ashraf al-Qidra told Ma'an that the massive increase in the number of dead also included a number of bodies that were pulled from the rubble as thousands of displaced families and rescue teams took advantage of the calm to return to their former homes.

Al-Qidra said that the dead included at least 541 children and 95 elderly, while 3,084 children and 368 elderly were among the wounded.

Indirect negotiations in Cairo between Israel and a Palestinian delegation with representatives of all major political parties including Hamas have offered a hope of reaching a lasting ceasefire and an end to the Israeli assault. 

Despite signs of a potential agreement at the end of the current five-day temporary ceasefire, however, it is still unclear whether a deal is in the works, the temporary ceasefire will be re-extended, or hostilities will recommence Monday at midnight when the ceasefire ends.

The Palestinian delegation has insisted that any long-term truce include the end of Israel's eight-year siege on the Gaza Strip, release of dozens of prisoners whom Israel has re-arrested that were released in 2011 as part of the Shalit exchange, re-opening of a seaport and airport in Gaza, and creation of a safe passage between the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.

Israel, however, has countered that any agreement should include the demilitarization of the Gaza Strip, which Palestinians resolutely reject, particularly in light of the recent assault.