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Ceasefire deal must lift Gaza siege: Hamas
DAMASCUS (Reuters) - The Islamist group Hamas will reject a long-term truce with Israel being mediated by Egypt unless the deal includes lifting the blockade on the Gaza Strip, Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal said on Friday.
Addressing a rally in Damascus, Meshaal said Hamas has only received "vague" proposals from Egypt without an Israeli commitment to lift the siege, which Hamas regards as an illegal collective punishment on Gaza's 1.5 million population.
"We will not accept a truce unless it was in return for lifting the siege, opening the border crossings and acceleration of the reconstruction of Gaza," Meshaal said.
Hamas officials are due to return to Cairo on Saturday to give a final reply to proposals to reach an 18-month truce with Israel after its invasion of Gaza, which was halted last month.
Hamas cites the blockade as a main reason for not renewing a previous six-month ceasefire with Israel in December, shortly before Israel began its 3-week offensive.
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