Hamas' leader in the Gaza Strip Ismail Haniyeh said on Friday his movement would not stop smuggling activities into the coastal territory. Stopping smuggling is a key Israeli demand in an Egyptian-brokered Gaza calm agreed between Israel and Hamas that came into force on Thursday. Palestinian resistance groups smuggle arms and ammunitions into Gaza Strip through tunnels across the border with Egypt and on boats along the coast. Israel has also demanded Egyptintensify efforts to halt the flow of arms into the Strip.
"We cannot talk about stopping smuggling because it is something beyond our ability as a government and we did not give a commitment in this regard," Haniyeh told worshippers before Friday prayers in Gaza City. According to him, Hamas will not to impose the calm by force on other armed groups, but added that other groups had agreed to the deal voluntarily.
Mark Regev, spokesman to Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, noted the calm agreement included an end to attacks on Israel by all armed groups and a complete end to arms smuggling. "Anyone who says otherwise apparently wants to destroy the calm before it has a chance to really succeed," Regev said, according to Reuters.