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Friday 19th September 2014
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Hamas Chief Rejects Israel's Call To Disarm

Friday, 29th August 2014 01:31

The leader of Hamas has rejected Israel's demand that it lay down its weapons in Gaza, saying the issue is "not up for negotiations".

Speaking at a news conference in Doha, Khaled Meshaal insisted the Palestinian movement will relinquish its arms in the territory it rules, nor discuss disarmament in any future talks.

"The weapons of the resistance are sacred and we will not accept that they be on the agenda," Mr Meshaal said.

"The issue is not up for negotiations. No one can disarm Hamas and its resistance."

The comments come as a truce between Israel and Hamas which came into effect on Tuesday continues to hold.

Israel has repeatedly linked the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip to the territory's demilitarisation.

Both sides have claimed the truce as a victory, with Israel saying none of Hamas' demands were achieved by the time the agreement came into force.

Under the truce, Israel will ease its restrictions on the entry of goods, humanitarian aid and construction materials into Gaza.

It will also extend the offshore area open to Palestinian fishermen.

Talks on Hamas' demands for an airport, a port, the release of prisoners, and possible demilitarisation will be delayed until negotiators meet in Cairo over the coming month.

Meanwhile, humanitarian aid has begun to reach Gaza as residents started to rebuild their lives.

Hundreds of lorries carrying biscuits, sweets, soft drinks, nappies and aid supplies crossed into Gaza on Thursday.

But Palestinians say many residents are still without vital construction materials.

"The things that the people of the Gaza Strip were really waiting for - construction materials - have not got through," said Talib Abu Jaray, a 50-year old lorry driver.

At least 2,140 Palestinians died during the 50-day conflict between Israel and Hamas, with more than 70% believed to be civilians.

Some 64 Israeli soldiers and civilians were also killed.