Any initiative to disarm Hamas and other militant groups in the Gaza Strip would be “worthless,” Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said Saturday, saying such a move would be “inconsistent with international law and our people will not allow it.”
Abu Zuhri told the Palestinian Ma’an news agency that, if anything, Israel was the party that should be disarmed, while the international community should “ban the American administration from providing it with the weapons that are used to kill children and women.“
London-based Arab newspaper A-Sharq Al-Awsat reported Saturday that ceasefire talks will be renewed in Cairo next week. Palestinian negotiators are expected to repeat their demands for the release of Hamas prisoners held by Israel since June, as well as the establishment of a seaport and an airport in the Strip. Israel has rejected these demands, and Hamas accepted an open-ended ceasefire on Tuesday without them.
Reports of new talks in the coming days were not confirmed. Previous indications were that talks on a long-term Israel-Gaza arrangement were set to take place only a month from now.
Hamas and other Gaza-based terror groups reached an open-ended ceasefire deal with Israel on the 50th day of Operation Protective Edge. Under the deal, Israel agreed to lift restrictions on fishing, allowing boats to work up to six nautical miles from the shore. It also pledged to ease restrictions at two of the crossings into Gaza — Erez and Kerem Shalom — to allow the supervised entry of goods, humanitarian aid and construction materials, in a move which began Thursday.
Continued indirect negotiations in Cairo are also stipulated in the deal, though it is unclear what progress can be made, as both sides compete for achievements and shy away from any concessions that may portray them as weak.
Hamas has vowed to pursue its goal of ending the blockade on Gaza and constructing a seaport and an airport to allow the Palestinians complete freedom in travel and trade between Gaza and the outside world. But Israel has said such a future is only possible if the territory is demilitarized — a move endorsed by the US and several European leaders but utterly rejected by Hamas.
Hamas has threatened to resume fighting should its demands not be met, with exiled political chief Khaled Mashaal saying Thursday that Gaza would never give up its “sacred” weapons.
“The rockets and tunnels exist; if the negotiations fail and there is a need, we will return to resistance until we reach our goals,” he said at a press conference in Qatar.
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday that if Hamas restarted attacks, Israel would hit back “seven times as hard.”