Hamas: Ending arms smuggling not part of truce

Hamas official Risheq says deal with Israel to end fighting doesn't include Egyptian commitment to stop flow of weapons into Gaza.

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November 24, 2012 21:46
2 minute read.
A tunnel linking Egypt and the Gaza Strip

Gaza tunnel. (photo credit: REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany)

 
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The Egyptian-brokered cease-fire agreement between Israel and Hamas does not call for stopping the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip, a top Hamas leader announced Saturday.

Ezat Risheq, a member of the Hamas “political bureau,” said reports claiming that the agreement calls for an end to the smuggling of weapons were untrue.

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Risheq was commenting on reports that claimed special US army units would be deployed along the border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt to stop the flow of weapons to Hamas and other armed Palestinian groups.

The Hamas official claimed that Israel was behind the reports “to cover up for its defeat.”

An Israeli official, however, referred anyone making this claim to the statement the White House issued after the cease-fire was announced on Wednesday. He quoted US President Barack Obama as telling Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that the US “would use the opportunity offered by a cease-fire to intensify efforts to help Israel address its security needs, especially the issue of the smuggling of weapons and explosives into Gaza.”

The official said it was clear that Hamas and other terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip were committed to re-arming, and that Iran was eager to help them do so.

The official added that “it was equally clear” that there will be a US-led international effort to combat it.

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“We hope the Egyptians will be a partner in this. We think they have an interest to do so.”

The official said that no sovereign country wants arms running through its borders which could be siphoned off by other elements for other purposes. In addition, he said, Egypt has an interest in preserving the quiet in the South and preventing an escalation similar to what was witnessed last week.

The key challenge for the international community, the source said, was to stop the arms before they reached Sinai’s tunnels to be smuggled into Gaza.

In a related development, Ziad Nakhalah, deputy head of Islamic Jihad, told the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper that the cease-fire agreement was “temporary and partial.”

He said that Islamic Jihad would not be able to live with the agreement forever “as if matters were normal.”

The agreement, Nakhalah explained, “is part of our struggle with Israel because it is the aggressor. Israel has assaulted our lands and holy sites and people in Gaza, the West Bank and the territories of 1948.”

He said that Islamic Jihad would never lay down its arms.

“The cease-fire must be mutual,” Nakhalah added.

“According to the agreement, Israel must end the blockade and facilitate the movement of Palestinians in the sea and on the land. If this is not implemented, we will return to the previous situation.”

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