In a speech broadcast across the Arab world and widely followed in the Middle East and elsewhere, Khaled Meshal, the senior leader in exile of Hamas, told an unusual Arab gathering in Doha, Qatar, that “I assure you: despite all the destruction in Gaza, we will not accept Israel’s conditions for a cease-fire.
“We tell our loved ones in Gaza, the aggression will soon perish on the rock of your steadfastness,” he said.
Israel has long insisted that a cease-fire should be long-term and sustainable, preventing Hamas from firing rockets at Israel or re-arming.
But Mr. Meshal, who is based in Damascus, Syria, told the meeting in Doha that his organization would accept a cease-fire only if Israel withdrew its forces from Gaza, lifted its blockade of the territory and reopened border crossing points. Despite three weeks of fighting that has claimed around 1,100 Palestinian lives, he said, “resistance in Gaza has not been defeated. It has suffered harm but it has not been defeated.”