Hamas members and Abbas.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Weapons used by Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip to fight Israel will be transferred to the West Bank, Hamas deputy chief in Gaza Khalil al-Hayya said on Monday.
Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other armed Palestinian groups are thought to possess very few weapons in the West Bank.
“These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to battle the occupation...
We want to fight the occupation in the West Bank. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends,” Hayya told a press conference in Gaza on Monday, without elaborating on how such a plan would be fulfilled.
Since Hamas forcibly ousted the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority from Gaza in 2007, the PA security forces have cracked down on Hamas’s military infrastructure in the West Bank and undermined its sources of funding.
Meanwhile, the IDF has also targeted Hamas’s military activities in the West Bank and arrested Hamas members allegedly planning attacks against Israel.
Hayya also emphatically rejected PA and Fatah demands that militant groups in Gaza disarm as a part of efforts to advance reconciliation and reunite the West Bank and the Strip.
Hamas and Fatah signed a deal in mid-October to restore the PA’s governing authority in Gaza.
“These weapons are our honor, our strength, our dignity and the existence of the Palestinian people in all its force... We do accept putting these weapons on the table or talking about them,” Hayya said.
PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said he would not accept a scenario in which the PA takes responsibility for Gaza and militant groups such as Hamas’s armed wing, the Izzadin Kassam Brigades, hold on to their weapons.
On Sunday, PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh said, “There will only be one weapon, one authority and one law” in the West Bank and Gaza.
There are an estimated 25,000 members of the Kassam Brigades, who wield thousands of rockets, guns and other weapons. Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine and other groups also have armed wings in the Strip.
Hayya, however, said that Hamas is ready to grant the decision of war and peace to “one Palestinian leadership.”
“We want to make a strategy. We are prepared,” he said.
Hamas Politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh also has said that Hamas wants to make joint decisions on matters of war and peace.