The announcement comes after three weeks of fighting in the coastal strip, as Israel launched a massive military offensive aimed at halting years of daily rocket fire on its southern communities. Palestinian sources say that more than 1,100 Gazans have been killed since the offensive began on December 27. Three Israeli civilians and 10 Israel Defense Forces have been killed during that period.
Hamas, however, said it would continue fighting in Gaza as long as Israeli troops remained in the Hamas-ruled Strip.
“If the Israeli military continues its existence in the Gaza Strip, that is a wide door for the resistance against the occupation forces,” Osama Hamdan, a Hamas official in Lebanon told Al Jazeera.
Fawzi Barhum, a Hamas spokesman, said: “The Zionist enemy must stop all its aggression, completely withdraw from the Gaza Strip, lift the blockade, and open the crossings. We will not accept the presence of a single soldier in Gaza.
“The enemy’s declaration of a unilateral ceasefire confirms that this is a unilateral war launched in one direction, from the enemy upon our people,” Barhum, who is in Gaza, said in a statement.
Speaking at a forum in Beirut, Hamdan called on Arab leaders to stand by the Palestinian “resistance” and urged European nations to cut ties with Israel for its “crimes” in Gaza.