World

Defiant Hamas leader calls for opening of Gaza borders

DOHA, Qatar (AP) — Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal is calling for the opening of Gaza’s borders and the end of a more than seven-year-long blockade imposed by Israel and Egypt on the Palestinian strip.

Striking a defiant tone, he said Wednesday that Gaza is fighting an occupying force and that the Palestinians are ‘‘the true owners of the land.’’

Mashaal says Hamas cannot abandon its terms in a cease-fire agreement, and can accept a humanitarian truce that is supported by a genuine relief program for the besieged Gaza Strip.

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Mashaal spoke from exile to reporters in Doha, Qatar.

Israeli troops battled Hamas militants on Wednesday near a southern Gaza Strip town as the top U.S. diplomat reported progress in efforts to end fighting that has so far killed more than 680 Palestinians and 34 Israelis.