Hamas: The continuation of the cease-fire in Gaza depends on Israel

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Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the steadfastness of the ceasefire agreement between the Palestinian factions in Gaza and Israel depends on the Israeli behavior on the ground.

Abu Zuhri confirmed in an interview during his visit to Tunis that his movement will respect the ceasefire agreement as long as Israel respects it.

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He explained, “If Israel does not comply, it is natural for us to go to confront it.”

He stressed that his movement has “all options, and its weapons are in its hands, and it determines its position and decision in light of Israeli behavior.”

He pointed out that what was achieved was “a mutual and simultaneous ceasefire agreement, not a truce,” describing it as “fragile due to the bloody and criminal nature of the occupation.”

Abu Zuhri warned that “the occupation does not respect the agreements, and there are daily excursions and incursions into the cities of the West Bank, and the threat of displacement of the residents of the city of Jerusalem is still present.”

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“Therefore, the state of engagement and confrontation still exists, and the battle will return in light of the continuous Israeli threats and crimes,” he added.

On April 13, the situation in Palestine erupted as a result of Israeli “brutal” attacks in the occupied city of Jerusalem.

The escalation spread to the West Bank, and turned into a military confrontation in the Gaza Strip, which ended after 11 days with a cease-fire at dawn on May 21.

The Israeli aggression on the West Bank and Gaza Strip in the previous period resulted in 290 martyrs, including 69 children, 40 women and 17 elderly people.

In addition to more than 8,900 injured, 13 Israelis were killed and hundreds were injured during the response of the factions in Gaza by firing rockets at Israel.

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Commenting on the regional movement to establish the cease-fire, “Abu Zuhri” spoke about the visit of the Director of Egyptian Intelligence Abbas Kamel to Gaza last Monday.

If he considers it to come in the context of the Egyptian interest in following up the Palestinian cause, and Cairo’s keenness to support the Palestinian position following the aggression.

He considered that the hospitality with which the Egyptian delegation was received in Gaza is “evidence of Hamas’ keenness to build great relations with Cairo, as a reflection of the historical relations between the two peoples.”

Abu Zuhri added, “This visit will have what follows in the development of bilateral relations in the interest of the people of Gaza.”

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Reconstruction file.. and prisoner exchange

“Abu Zuhri” indicated that the file of the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip was an essential part of the dialogue table.

He renewed his movement’s refusal to link the reconstruction file with the issue of prisoner exchange.

Hamas keeps four Israelis, including two soldiers who were captured during the war on Gaza in the summer of 2014 (without disclosing their fate or health status).

While the other two entered Gaza in unclear circumstances during the past years.

Israel requires linking any progress to the Gaza reconstruction file to ending the issue of its captured soldiers in Gaza.

In this context, Abu Zuhri said, “The file of Gaza reconstruction is linked to the results of the Israeli aggression. As for the prisoner exchange deal, it has contexts and costs related to the release of Palestinian prisoners.”

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He pointed out that it requires, before entering into new negotiations, that Israel release the prisoners it re-arrested after their release in the “Shalit” deal (Wafa Al-Ahrar) in 2011.

And “Abu Zuhri” warned against “any slowdown or delay in the file of the reconstruction of Gaza.”

He stressed that Hamas did not stipulate that it be a party to the implementation of any reconstruction process, and pledged to provide all facilities to donors in this regard.

However, he added, “This does not mean a slowdown in reconstruction projects,” calling on the United States and the international community not to “exploit this file to punish the Palestinian people for embracing the resistance.”

Abu Zuhri added, “We have options that guarantee reconstruction, and we are confident that Arab and Islamic parties (he did not name them) will not allow any delay in this matter.”

He called on those parties to make financial pledges for reconstruction through the formation of committees to directly supervise the expenditure of funds allocated to this file.

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He added, “Egypt has the experience and competence to play an active role in the reconstruction file, and its role is welcome.”

Abu Zuhri promised the Palestinians affected by the Israeli aggression to stand by them and compensate them for the homes and properties they lost.

The Hamas spokesman criticized the role and performance of the Palestinian Authority during the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

He said, “Unfortunately, the Palestinian Authority was absent during the aggression, and took a position of neutrality, and then it is now looking for a role in the reconstruction file.”

Haniyeh’s visit to Cairo

In a related context, “Abu Zuhri” confirmed that the head of the Hamas political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, will visit Cairo soon to discuss bilateral relations and the file of Gaza reconstruction.

Earlier, Hamas announced that the Egyptian authorities had invited Haniyeh to visit Cairo to discuss efforts to establish a ceasefire in Gaza and the reconstruction of the Strip.

Abu Zuhri explained that arrangements for the visit are being completed, pointing out that Haniyeh intends to make a tour that includes Arab and Islamic countries.

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The position of Iran

On the repeated praise of Iran by Hamas leaders and the criticism that this provokes among the movement’s supporters against the backdrop of Tehran’s position, Abu Zuhri replied that the movement’s decision is taken through its official and consultative institutions.

He added, “What is issued by the leaders of the movement is a reflection of its official position, but it is natural that this position corresponds to the moods of others or contradicts them, but we are committed to what is issued by the institutions of the movement.”

He explained that his movement is keen on relations with all Arab and Islamic parties, and does not create any relationship with one at the expense of the other, adding, “We welcome anyone who wants to get close to us.”

And he added, “Iran has given a lot for the resistance, and we appreciate this stance for it on the basis of serving the Palestinian cause.”

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Tunisia visit

On the other hand, “Abu Zuhri” indicated that he is currently conducting an official visit to Tunisia in the context of appreciating the official and popular position on the recent Israeli aggression, and the Tunisians’ support for their Palestinian brothers.

He added that he met with many active parties, currents and institutions in the Tunisian arena, regardless of their orientations.

He called for the formation of a national fund to open the door for contributors to support those affected by the Israeli aggression on Gaza.

Abu Zuhri stressed that the Tunisian people had a special imprint in resisting the Israeli aggression through the drones used by the resistance.

It bears the name “Mohamed Zouari”, the Tunisian aviation engineer who was assassinated on December 15, 2016.

Hamas announced at the time that Zouari belonged to its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, and accused Israel of assassinating him.

This is due to his supervision of a project to develop unmanned aircraft, and a project for a drone submarine.