The son of senior Hamas militant Mazen Fuqaha sits on the shoulders of Hamas Gaza Chief Yahya Al-Sinwar as Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (L) gestures during a memorial service for Fuqaha, in Gaza City March 27, 2017..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
In the next war between Hamas and Israel, the Israelis will have to evacuate not only their “settlements” near the border with the Gaza Strip, but also Ashdod, Ashkelon, the Negev and Tel Aviv, Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, threatened on Saturday.
He said that despite the recent ceasefire understandings with Israel, the Palestinians will continue to protest near the border fence with Israel.
Sinwar, who was speaking to representatives of Palestinian factions and civil society organizations in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave, said that his movement will continue to be ready for war with Israel to “defend the Palestinian people.” Hamas, he said, will be a “shield and sword” for the Palestinians.
Sinwar said that if a war is “imposed” on the Gaza Strip, Israel will “suffer.” He added: “I pledge that the occupation will evacuate its settlements not only in the ‘Gaza Envelope,’ but also in Ashdod, the Negev, Ashkelon and even Tel Aviv. Remember this pledge. The fingers of the resistance in the Gaza Strip are on the trigger. We are today ten times stronger than we were in 2014 (in reference to the Operation Protective Shield).”
Regarding the ceasefire understandings with Israel, Sinwar said Hamas did not pay any “political price.” The understandings, he said, “have no prices or political dimensions.”
He further said that the understandings were not connected to any prisoner swap between Hamas and Israel, or the issue of the weapons of Palestinian terrorist groups in the Gaza Strip.
“The understandings are not an alternative to Palestinian unity and partnership,” the Hamas leader explained. “There is no talk about the Palestinian right to resistance in all its forms, especially in the West Bank. Also, there is no talk about halting the March of Return.”
The Great March of Return is the name Palestinians use to describe the weekly protests near the border with Israel which began in March 2018.
Sinwar praised Egypt for its role in “easing restrictions” imposed on the Gaza Strip.
“We have strengthened our relations with Egypt,” he said. “The Egyptians have thankfully played a big role in the easing of the restrictions.”
Hamas claims that the Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings include the expansion of the fishing zone, reopening the border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel, the delivery of additional Qatari funds, the launch of various humanitarian and economic projects in the coastal enclave, and solving the power shortage.
The Hamas leader boasted that his movement has been successful in thwarting attempts to instigate unrest in the Gaza Strip. He was referring to recent anti-Hamas protests that erupted in various parts of the Gaza Strip to protest economic hardship. Hamas security forces brutally squashed the protests, arresting, beating and shooting scores of Palestinians.
“During the last year, Hamas, together with our people, has scored a number of achievements,” Sinwar said. “The most prominent achievement has been the foiling of all attempts to destabilize civil peace in the Gaza Strip.”
Hamas leaders have accused their rivals in Fatah and the Palestinian Authority of being behind the protests. They claim that the protests were part of a “conspiracy” to end the Hamas-rule in the Gaza Strip. Fatah and PA officials have dismissed the charges.
Sinwar praised the ongoing protests alongside the border with Israel, and said they have placed the issue of the Gaza Strip blockade on the world’s agenda.
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