Hamas could have saved dozens of lives with truce: Egypt

Egypt sharply criticised Hamas on Thursday as Israel widened a 10-day offensive in Gaza, saying they could have saved dozens of lives had they accepted a Cairo-mediated truce.

Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukri's comments came as Israel launched a ground operation and as Cairo hosted Palestinian and Israeli officials for indirect talks on ending the conflict, which has killed 240 Palestinians in air strikes and shelling.

Hamas, the Islamist rulers of the besieged enclave, had rejected the ceasefire intended to start on Tuesday and continued firing rockets at Israeli cities.

"Had Hamas accepted the Egyptian proposal, it could have saved the lives of at least 40 Palestinians," Shoukri said, quoted by state news agency MENA.

He accused Hamas of plotting with Qatar and Turkey to "frustrate Egypt's regional role."