Hamas accuses Israel of violating ceasefire
Hamas deputy leader Musa Abu-Marzuq accused Tel Aviv of deceiving the international community on Tuesday, following the breakdown of the fragile truce between the two sides.
Speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said: “Israel lied to the international community when it announced that three rockets had been fired from Gaza during the negotiations. This did not happen. The Palestinian resistance did not fire a single rocket towards Israel.”
Instead, Abu-Marzuq accused Israel of firing the first shot. “Tel Aviv broke the truce by firing on Gaza. They fired on the Gaza Strip . . .on a house belonging to the Al-Dalw family in the belief that Mohamed Deif [commander of the Al-Qassam Brigades] was staying there. This air strike only resulted in the death of women and children,” he said.
International media reported on Tuesday that the wife and child of Deif were among those killed in the attack, but that the fate of the commander of Hamas’s military wing remained unclear. Deif is known to be a high priority target who has survived a number of Israeli assassination attempts over the years.
Although some reports from the indirect negotiations between Israel and the Palestinian factions in Cairo have said that the delegations were moving closer to a deal, Abu-Marzuq denied that any significant progress had been made.
“Until this moment, Israel has not agreed to meet the demands of the Palestinian people and the rights of it citizens,” he said. “The biggest issue they tried to avoid was the continuation of the siege of Gaza Strip, the opening of the border crossings, as well as the presence of a seaport and airport.”
“This is evidence of their desire for the continuation of the siege [of Gaza] and to isolate Gaza from the West Bank,” he added.
Abu-Marzuq denied that the truce extensions indicated that the Palestinian and Israeli sides were moving closer on a deal, claiming that the Palestinian delegation agreed to this out of respect and appreciation for Egypt’s role as a mediator.
“The extension was the desire of our brothers in Egypt and we responded to this. We also provided Egypt with a memorandum of understanding which represents the minimum demands of the Palestinian people. The Israeli delegation took this memorandum to Tel Aviv but we have not received any response until now,” the senior Hamas official told Asharq Al-Awsat on Tuesday.
Abu-Marzuq refused to divulge the precise details of the Palestinian demands, but strongly denied reports that the Palestinians were discussing disarmament. “If any demands or conditions related to the weapons of the resistance had been made, there would have been no negotiations. The arms of the resistance are a legitimate right based on the presence of the Israeli occupation.”
“If the occupation continues, then every action has a reaction,” the Hamas deputy leader warned.
As for whether the Palestinians and Israelis will return to negotiations following the latest ceasefire breaches, Abu-Marzuq toldAsharq Al-Awsat: “Anything is possible. The Israeli side walked out but the Palestinian delegation is in permanent session.”
“All options are open. We are receptive to the great efforts exerted by the Egyptians over the past few weeks, but Israel has tried to thwart all ceasefire efforts.”
By Sawsan Abu-Husain