Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh looks on as he attends the funeral of Palestinian Hamas militants who were killed in Israeli tank fire, at a mosque in Gaza City July 26, 2018.
(photo credit: MOHAMMED SALEM/REUTERS)
Hamas accused Israel on Thursday of seeking to thwart Egyptian and United Nations efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip.
The accusation came as Egypt, the UN and Qatar were working toward ending the latest round of violence between Israel and Hamas.
Sources close to Hamas said that the movement informed the three parties that it was interested in a cease-fire with Israel.
Senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said late Thursday that diplomatic efforts to achieve a truce with Israel have “reached an advanced stage,” but did not provide further details. Hamas’s position is clear, he added, namely that the blockade on the Gaza Strip must be lifted.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum said that Israel alone bears full responsibility for the latest flare-up of violence. “What Hamas did was a natural response to Israeli crimes,” he said.
“Hamas was only defending the Gaza Strip to force the occupation to stop its aggression on the Gaza Strip and honor the rules of the previous period of calm.”
Barhoum called on “decision-makers in the region, the international community and the UN to immediately intervene to stop this escalation and the targeting of civilians and fighters.”
He claimed that Israel had failed to impose new rules of engagement on Hamas and other Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip, and that’s why it was now “targeting women and children.” Hamas, he said, “was committed to the previous period of calm, and can’t accept new rules of engagement.”
Earlier, Hamas and various Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip announced that the “current round of violence has ended.” A statement issued by the “joint operations room” of the factions said that the Palestinian “resistance had responded to the crimes of the enemy, and the continuation of calm in the Gaza Strip was now dependent on the behavior of the occupation.”
Another Hamas spokesman, Abdel Latif al-Qanou, said that his movement and the rest of the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip were “fulfilling their duty of defending the Palestinians against Israeli aggression on the Gaza Strip.” He threatened that Israel will pay a “heavy price for its crimes and will not be able to impose its own rules on the ground.”
The Palestinian Resistance Committees, a coalition of several Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip, accused Israel of initiating the latest round of violence. Abu Mujahed, a spokesman for the commit - tees, said that Israel wanted to “send a message to the Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip, and these groups responded with their own message on the ground.”
He was apparently referring to Tuesday’s incident in which two Hamas snipers were killed when an IDF tank fired at their base in the Gaza Strip. Hamas claims the two snipers were killed during a military training exercise, and not during an attack on IDF soldiers.
Abu Mujahed accused Israel of “tampering” with efforts to achieve a truce in the Gaza Strip by “concocting crises and fail - ing to honor previous cease-fire agreements.” The Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip have sent a message to Israel that they will not allow it to impose its own rules on the Palestin - ians, he said. “The enemy will pay for each aggression on the Gaza Strip,” Abu Mujahed cau - tioned.
Another Palestinian terror group, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ), boasted that the latest escalation showed that the Palestinians “possess the initiative and are capable of responding to Israeli crimes and attempts to impose its own conditions.” Ahmed Mudalal, a senior PIJ official, said that the Palestinians were determined to prevent Israel from “changing the rules of engagement anytime it wishes.”
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