'Truce doesn't mean end of resistance'

Hamas official says Israelis likely to violate 'tahdiyah' and "launch fresh aggressions against our people."

Hamas gunmen 224.88 (photo credit: AP)
Hamas gunmen 224.88
(photo credit: AP)
Israel is mistaken if it thinks that a truce with Hamas would mean that the "resistance operations" would end, a senior Hamas official said Monday. "The confrontation with the [Israeli] occupation will continue despite the talk about a tahdiyah [calm]," said Osama Hamdan, Hamas's representative in Lebanon. "Hamas does not trust the Israelis because they are likely to violate the tahdiyah and launch fresh aggressions against our people. As far as Hamas is concerned, all options remain open." Hamdan's remarks came as a senior Hamas delegation arrived in Cairo Monday for talks with Egyptian General Intelligence Chief Omar Suleiman on Egypt's efforts to achieve a cease-fire between the Palestinians and Israel. The delegation, which is scheduled to meet with Suleiman Tuesday to hear about Israel's position regarding the Egyptian truce initiative, is headed by Mahmoud Zahar and Musa Abu Marzuk. "Egypt must be biased toward the Palestinians and not play the role of mediator," Hamdan said. "Egypt should not be different from the rest of the Arabs, who fully support the Palestinian position." He said Hamas went to Cairo only to learn about the Israeli response to the Egyptian initiative and not to discuss it, noting that his movement had already accepted it. Referring to the case of kidnapped IDF Cpl. Gilad Schalit, the Hamas official said his movement would not "succumb" to Israel's demand that the issue be part of any truce deal. "We won't surrender to Israeli extortion," he added. "Hamas is different from the other Palestinian parties, which are used to making free concessions to Israel." Another Hamas representative, Ismail Radwan, said his movement did not rule out the possibility of a major confrontation if Israel rejects the initiative. "The Israelis appear to be confused about the tahdiyah," he said. "Some Israelis are calling for accepting the tahdiyah, while others are talking about invading the Gaza Strip. But we are prepared for all possibilities, regardless of whether Israel says yes or no. If we are forced to fight, we will enter the battle." However, some Hamas officials said they were optimistic regarding the prospects of achieving an agreement over a truce with Israel. "There is room for optimism," a top Hamas official in the Gaza Strip told The Jerusalem Post. "We believe we are very close to reaching an agreement because Israel has signaled its willingness to accept the Egyptian initiative." The official claimed that the Egyptians had warned Israel against launching a massive military operation in the Gaza Strip. "The Egyptians told us that they have warned Israel against the repercussions of a military operation in the Gaza Strip," he added. "The Egyptians said that such an operation would have a negative impact on their relations with Israel." According to the Hamas official, Israel "does not have the courage and energy" to carry out a big military operation in the Gaza Strip. "They know that they can't wipe out Hamas," he said. "Also, they don't have a long-term strategy as to what they would do after they reoccupy the Gaza Strip."