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Hamas 'set for truce with Israel'

Members of Hamas's military wing, Gaza City, 19 January 2009
Hamas is accused of using violence to stifle opposition in Gaza

A long-term truce between the Palestinian militant group Hamas and Israel may be announced within days, Hamas officials said in Cairo.

Border crossings would reportedly be re-opened and a ceasefire would be called for 18 months under the Egyptian-brokered deal.

Israel and Hamas called unilateral truces at the end of Israel's offensive against Gaza last month.

US envoy George Mitchell recently urged the sides to extend their ceasefire.

There was no immediate Israeli reaction to Thursday's announcement by Hamas officials.

The Israeli army said Palestinian militants in Gaza had fired at least two rockets into southern Israel, without causing damage or casualties.

It was not immediately clear which group fired the rockets, which landed near the town of Sderot.

'Obstacles removed'

Moussa Abu Marzouk, a deputy leader of Hamas, said the truce would be announced within 48 hours.

"We have agreed to the truce with the Israeli side for one year and a half [in return] for the opening of all six passages between the Gaza Strip and Israel, and the halting of all military activity and aggression," he was quoted as saying by the Egyptian state news agency Mena.

Hamas, he added, would first have to consult with other Palestinian factions.

Taher al-Nono, a member of Hamas's negotiating team in Cairo, was earlier quoted by Reuters as saying that the deal would be announced within three days.

"Most of the obstacles that prevented us from reaching an agreement were resolved," he said.




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