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  Tuesday, October 22, 2019
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Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected on Friday Israel's conditions
Syrian-based Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal rejected on Friday Israel's conditions for a ceasefire in the Gaza Strip at the opening of a summit for Arab and Muslim nations in Qatar's capital, Doha.

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has said that Israel will only call a halt to its operations in Gaza if Palestinian militants stop firing rockets at Israel's southern territories and cease smuggling arms into the enclave of 1.5 million.

"We will not accept Israel's conditions for a ceasefire," Mashaal said.

Mashaal also said that "the aggression must stop and Israel must withdraw its troops and open border crossings into Gaza immediately."

The emergency summit was called in order to discuss measures to bring a halt to Israel's military operations in the Gaza Strip. The heads of state of Algeria, Comoros, Iran, Lebanon, Mauritania, Sudan and Syria attended the summit, while Djibouti, Iraq, Libya, and Turkey were represented by senior officials. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas was not present.

Other notable absences were Egypt and Saudi Arabia, who believe that the summit could wreck Egyptian efforts to broker a ceasefire.

The emir of Qatar, sheikh Hamad bin Khalifa Al Thani, earlier suggested halting all efforts to normalize relations with Israel. He also suggested organizing humanitarian aid shipments to the Gaza Strip via the Mediterranean Sea.

The emir also said that Qatar was prepared to invest $250 million into a fund to be created in order to rebuild Gaza after the conflict.

Since the beginning of the operation on December 27, over 1,100 Palestinians have been killed, more than half of them civilians, according to the Palestinian health ministry. Israel's casualties have been estimated at 13, including 10 military personnel.

Extensive Israeli airstrikes and ground operations in the Gaza Strip have caused $1.4 billion worth of damage to the enclave's economy, and left 26,000 people homeless, the Palestinian National Authority has reported.

Russia urged on Friday the international community to do all it could to put an Egyptian ceasefire plan into practice.

"The initiative that our Egyptian colleagues have proposed and continue promoting is optimal, and we believe everything possible should be done to support it," Sergei Lavrov said, reiterating an earlier proposal to hold a conference on the Middle East peace process in Moscow.


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