Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a news conference following his arrival at the Rafah border crossing in the southern Gaza Strip September 19, 2017. .
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Palestinian protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel are not taking place because Palestinians want fuel or financial aid, but because they seek an end to the blockade on the coastal enclave, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said on Saturday.
Haniyeh, who was speaking during the funeral of one of seven Palestinians killed in clashes with IDF soldiers along the border on Friday, said that the demonstrations, which began last March in the context of the so-called “March of Return,” will continue until the blockade is completely lifted.
“Our marches are not for the sake of solar or dollars,” Haniyeh added. “Our people have the right to live in dignity and end the blockade.” He was referring to the fuel that was supplied last week to the power plant in the Gaza Strip.
Hamas, he said, appreciates efforts to end the blockade, but will not accept “partial solutions.”
Palestinian sources said seven Palestinians were killed and more than 150 injured during Friday’s violent protests along the border between the Gaza Strip and Israel.
Also Saturday, Haniyeh said in a recorded speech to a conference on Jerusalem in Turkey that Hamas was seeking a truce with Israel in return for the lifting of the blockade.
Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are involved in the efforts to achieve the truce, he said. However, Haniyeh stressed that Hamas will not pay any “political price” for such a deal.
He also stressed that any truce agreement with Israel will not be part of US President Donald Trump’s yet-to-be-announced plan for peace in the Middle East or result in the separation of the West Bank from the Gaza Strip.
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In Ramallah, the PLO on Saturday renewed condemned the “American-backed Israeli aggression” against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and accused Israelis soldiers of opening fire at “peaceful demonstrators.”
The PLO called on the international community to move quickly to “put an end to the ongoing Israeli aggression against the Palestinians, especially the massacres that are being perpetrated against the peaceful demonstrators in the Gaza Strip.”
Mahmoud Habbash, a senior adviser to PA President Mahmoud Abbas, on Friday accused Hamas of serving as a “cheap tool” in the hands of the US and Israel. Habbash, who was speaking during a Friday prayer sermon in Ramallah, claimed that Hamas was helping Israel and the US administration in the implementation of Trump’s unseen peace plan, which is also known as the “deal of the century.”
He said that Hamas’s main concern now was to receive fuel and money, “while forgetting Jerusalem and Palestine and the need to end the occupation and establish an independent Palestinian state.”
Habbash was referring to the delivery of Qatari-funded fuel to the Gaza Strip to increase the supply of electricity there. Last week, several trucks loaded with fuel entered the Gaza Strip through the Kerem Shalom border crossing to keep the power plant running. The PA leadership has criticized the delivery of the fuel to the Gaza Strip, saying any aid should be channeled only through the Ramallah-based government.
“Hamas is trading in the blood of our martyrs in return for a few million dollars,” the top PA adviser charged. “Hamas is seeking to rip apart and weaken the Palestinians.”
Habbash accused Israel and Hamas of “conspiring” against the Gaza Strip and the Palestinian cause. The two parties, he claimed, are separately “implementing the so-called deal of the century which aims to liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
In a separate development, sources close to Hamas were quoted on Saturday as saying that the movement has uncovered a plan to assassinate three of its senior leaders: yahoo Sinwar, Khalil al-Haya and Mahmoud Zahar.
The sources told the Qatari online newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that the purported scheme was designed to destroy the unity of Hamas. The source did not say who was behind the purported assassination plan. However, they claimed that the scheme was part of a “big conspiracy” targeting Hamas.
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