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  • 27 August 2014, 22:47

Israel 'Did Not Accept Any Hamas Demands'

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has brushed off critics of the Gaza ceasefire, saying "Hamas was hit hard".

The premier has been under pressure after agreeing a truce with the Palestinians following a 50-day war which has left some of the Palestinian territory in ruins.

In a speech on Wednesday night, he said the military campaign had dealt a heavy blow to Hamas and a ceasefire deal had provided the militant organisation with no concessions.

The operation in Gaza had resulted in "great military and diplomatic achievements", he claimed, adding that Israel "didn't agree to accept any of Hamas' demands".

His comments came after Hamas declared victory in the seven week conflict, which saw hundreds of rockets sent into Israel and, according the Gaza's health ministry, left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead.

On the Israeli side, 70 people were killed. All but six were soldiers.

Abu Obeida, a spokesman for the Hamas' military wing, said: "Gaza achieved victory because it has done what major armies failed to do. It forced the enemy to retreat.

"We must know that no voice is louder than the voice of the resistance."

Mr Obeida said that his organisation had crushed Israel's ego after it was denied any strategic gains.

He also claimed that Hamas had proved that negotiation alone was not sufficient as Israel only understood the language of force and the only road to the liberation of Jerusalem was via resistance.

"There is no room for those Arabs who favour surrender. Our message must be one of strength," he said.

The open-ended ceasefire appeared to be holding, raising hopes it would eventually lead to a peace deal.

Thousands of people went on to the streets of Gaza to celebrate the truce, which was brokered in Egypt and came into effect at 4pm GMT on Tuesday.

The terms allow for an easing of Israel's blockade of Gaza to allow humanitarian aid and construction goods to enter for the rebuilding of the territory. Any goods taken in must do so under international supervision.

Demands that Hamas regards as important will only be addressed next month in Cairo.

Hamas wants a complete end to the Israeli blockade, which will include the reopening of Gaza's sea and airport.

It also wants Egypt to reopen the border crossing at Rafah. Israel, meanwhile, wants Hamas to be fully disarmed.

Mr Netanyahu said Israel "will not tolerate" any more rocket fire, and if the attacks resume, "we will respond even harder."

Israel carried out thousands of airstrikes and sent its troops into Gaza to attack Hamas targets. It also destroyed several tunnels it said led from Gaza into its territory.

Israel said that Hamas was responsible for the deaths of Palestinian civilians, claiming that the militants used flat blocks, mosques and schools to launch or store their weapons.

An estimated 100,000 people were left homeless by the Israel airstrikes. Several homes were also damaged and destroyed in Israel by militant attacks from Gaza.

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