Hamas: Gaza truce deal with Israel is in sight
Israel awaiting Egypt response key issues of deal, including release of IDF soldier held by Hamas, Palestinian arms smuggling from Sinai.
Senior Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said Monday that there was a successful conclusion in sight in Egyptian-sponsored talks on a truce, or tahadiyeh, in the Gaza Strip between the Islamist group and Israel.
"The talks underway in Egypt on calm are nearing an end, an end that would bring about what the Palestinian people aspire to - a lifting of the siege, the opening of the crossings and an end to the aggression," Haniyeh told a gathering in Gaza.
"We are committed to these demands ... A reciprocal and simultaneous calm that begins in Gaza and then extends to the West Bank," Haniyeh said.
A few hours later, Hamas, which seized control of the Gaza Strip in a violent coup a year ago, said it fired a rocket into Ashkelon, in Israel's south, wounding one Israeli.
Meanwhile, Israel is still waiting for Egypt's answer on several oustanding issues regarding the temporary cease-fire The Egyptian reply is expected later this week.
A Hamas delegation from Gaza has been in Cairo over the past two days, for talks with the heads of Egyptian intelligence.
Israel and Egypt have yet to finalize two issues: Defining the connection between the tahadiyeh and a deal for the release of kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, and determining the degree of Egypt's commitment to countering arms smuggling from Sinai into Gaza.
Defense sources in Israel said Sunday night that "it is important to understand that the meaning of the agreement with the Egyptians is that within several days after the cease-fire goes into effect, intensive negotiations begin over Gilad Shalit's release. This will be a tough deal to complete - therefore the government will be called upon to make tough decisions to bring Gilad home."
The sources hinted at the heavy price Hamas will demand: releasing hundreds of Palestinians held in Israeli prisons, many of whom were convicted of murder for their involvement in major terror attacks.