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Hamas Reportedly Drafting Terms of a Truce with Israel

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The Islamic militant group Hamas, which rules the Gaza Strip, is seeking a cease-fire with Israel. But Israel has rejected the offer, as we hear from Robert Berger at the VOA bureau in Jerusalem.

Israel Radio says Hamas is drafting terms for a truce and trying to get other Palestinian factions to halt rocket attacks on Israel. Hamas did not comment on the report, but it first offered a truce earlier this week after Israeli air strikes killed 13 Palestinian militants, including two top commanders of the Islamic Jihad group.

Israel says Hamas is only seeking a cease-fire, because it is taking a beating from the army.

"Hamas is a hostile entity, so we are not going to relate to any of Hamas' proposals," said Defense Ministry official David Hacham.

Rocket attacks on Israeli border communities have escalated since Hamas routed the Fatah forces of Western-backed Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas from Gaza six months ago.  In response, Israel has tightened crippling economic sanctions on Gaza, and, recently, it has stepped up air raids and ground incursions.

Chacham says the truce offer is too little, too late.

"Israel will not suffer these terrorist actions," he said.  "And, I think, we are going to see in the future more military operations, in order to put an end to this phenomenon from the Palestinian side."

Even if Hamas wants a truce, it may have a hard time bringing other militant factions on board. The Islamic Jihad, which has been hit hard in the recent fighting, said it is not time for a cease-fire, but rather, for revenge.

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