December 14, 2008 / 2:01 PM / 11 years ago

Hamas warns Israel truce coming to end

DAMASCUS (Reuters) - The exiled leader of Hamas was quoted as saying on Sunday that the Palestinian Islamist group would not renew a six-month-old truce with Israel that expires on Friday, but other Hamas officials were less definitive.

“There will be no renewal of the calm after it expires,” a statement issued in Damascus quoted Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal as telling a television station run by the group.

Meshaal is based in the Syrian capital. The statement gave no more detail.

Earlier, Ismail Haniyeh, the Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, had addressed a rally of up to 200,000 supporters in Gaza. He accused Israel of violating the terms of the truce but did not say that Hamas would not renew the agreement made in June.

Responding to the statement issued in Damascus, a Hamas official in Gaza told Reuters the agreement will not be renewed automatically after December 19 “and it will not be renewed as long as there is no real Israeli commitment to all of its conditions.”

“There is nothing that encourages us to continue with a deal that did not achieve the results we hoped for,” Osama al-Muzaini said.

But he stopped short of saying there would definitely be no renewal.

Since early last month, sporadic violence has occurred along the Israel-Gaza border, with Israeli troops raiding the coastal enclave and Islamist militants firing rockets at Israel.

Reporting by Khaled Yacoub Oweis in Damascus and Nidal al-Mughrabi in Gaza, writing by Alastair Macdonald

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