Friday, January 02, 2009

Hamas leaders hide and beg for ceasefire

From: The Australian, by Abraham Rabinovich, Jerusalem January 02, 2009:

HAMAS Prime Minister Ismail Haniya called for a ceasefire yesterday after Israel refused to halt the fighting and reiterated its determination to send ground forces into the Gaza Strip. Israel's Channel Two said the army had been ordered to prepare to move today as rain, which had turned the terrain to mud, began to clear.

...Mr Haniya, who has been in hiding with the rest of the Hamas leadership in Gaza since the Israeli air attack began on Saturday, said in a taped television address that Hamas was prepared "to talk about all issues and seriously" if Israel halted its attacks and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

His sober tone was a sharp departure from the taunts voiced by previous Hamas spokesmen..."What is happening in Gaza is not normal ...." said Mr Haniya. "It is a real war...."

..."We didn't initiate the Gaza operation to end it while Israeli towns are still under fire, as they were before the operation," Prime Minister Ehud Olmert said. He added that the proposal would be reconsidered when the time was right and only if international monitors took responsibility for enforcing it. As for humanitarian considerations, he said Israel was permitting an unlimited amount of humanitarian supplies to be trucked into the Gaza Strip daily.

...The head of Israel's Shin Bet security agency, Yuval Diskin, said that senior Hamas officials had taken shelter in Gaza's hospitals where they had "disguised themselves as doctors and (male) nurses". Other officials, he said, were sheltering in mosques, which had become weapons storehouses and command centres. He said Hamas was trying to repair destroyed tunnels to evacuate the leadership across the Egyptian border....

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