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Hamas sticks to demand embargo on Gaza be lifted

Source: Reuters - Thu, 24 Jul 2014 08:32 AM
Author: Reuters
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Violence in the occupied West Bank.

Palestinian youths protesting against Israel's offensive in Gaza, clashed with the Israeli military in Bethlehem.

Dozens of Palestinians hurled stones and molotov cocktails at Israeli soldiers, who responded with tear gas and water cannon.

While the bloodshed continues, the diplomats seek to find an end to the violence.

But the islamist militant group Hamas, which is dominant in Gaza, says there can be no ceasefire without an end to the economic blockage of the Gaza Strip.

(SOUNDBITE) (Arabic) HAMAS LEADER, KHALED MESHAAL, SAYING:

"We are extremely keen on a humanitarian truce, as we were last Thursday, a week ago, when we agreed to a truce for several hours in order to evacuate wounded and assist in relief efforts. We are keen on any humanitarian truce in this sense; a truce that doesn't bypass the demands of the resistance and the people, one that is supported and enhanced with a real aid program to the people of Gaza - that is one the people of Gaza and ourselves want, and one we will not shut the door on."

In turn, Israel said it needed another four or five days to destroy cross border tunnels and rocket arsenals.

The army launched its ground offensive against Hamas militants one week ago after air and naval barrages failed to stop Palestinian rocket fire.

The number of dead on the Palestinian side has exceeded 700. Most of them children and civilians.

Dozens of Israeli soldiers have also been killed in the fighting.

And despite intensive mediation efforts to end this violence, a truce remains elusive.

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