JERUSALEM: Israel and Hamas on Sunday ruled out any truce talks amid what Prime Minister Ehud Olmert described as a "real war" between the army and Palestinian militants in the Gaza Strip.
"There is no other way to describe what’s happening there (in Gaza) other than real war between the army and the terror groups," Olmert said at the weekly Israeli cabinet meeting.
"This war will continue, all the while taking precautions to avoid a humanitarian crisis that could hurt civilians who are not involved at all in terror."
Olmert said Israel would not hold truce talks with Hamas, a group that violently seized control of Gaza in June and does not recognise Israel’s right to exist.
"The state of Israel has no interest in holding negotiations with groups that do not recognise the Quartet’s basic conditions," Olmert said, referring to the international Quartet for Middle East peace.
"Anyone who accepts the basic conditions will be a partner in principle for negotiations, and those who are not ready to do so unfortunately cannot be partners for dialogue," he said.
The Quartet has demanded that Hamas renounce violence, recognise Israel and agree to past peace deals, steps which the Islamist movement has refused to take.
Hamas also said it would not hold any ceasefire talks unless Israel stopped its military operations in the territory that have killed at least 20 militants over the past week as armed groups continued to fire rockets and mortars into Israeli territory.
"It’s too early to talk about the truce as long as the aggression continues against the Palestinian people… the Palestinian people have a right to continue resistance," said Hamas spokesman Ismail Radwane.