Gaza, June 25 (Reuters): Palestinian militant leaders denied reports today that they had tentatively agreed to a ceasefire with Israel in the 33-month-old West Asian conflict.
“We have no idea about these reports. We are still in a process of consultation within the movement. Every time we near a decision (Israel) slaughters more of our people,” senior Hamas figure Abdel-Aziz al-Rantissi said.
A leader of Islamic militant group Islamic Jihad called the truce reports “all lies”.
The denials came after Israeli helicopter missiles and ground forces killed four Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, straining efforts at engineering a ceasefire in support of a peace plan just three weeks after its launch.
An Israeli missile strike wounded a Hamas militant and killed two civilians.
And in a separate incident, Israeli troops killed two Hamas fighters in a gunfight not far from where US envoy John Wolf met Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, to try to shore up the “road map” peace plan that envisages a Palestinian state alongside Israel by 2005.
The bloodletting deepened doubts that Hamas would call a temporary truce to bolster the US-backed peace initiative.