A lasting truce must lead to the lifting by Israel of its blockade of the Gaza Strip, Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal told AFP in an interview in Doha on Sunday.
The 72-hour ceasefire Hamas reached with Israel on Sunday “is one of the ways or tactics to ensure successful negotiations or to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian aid to Gaza,” said Mashaal.
The final “goal we insist on is having the demands of Palestinians met and the Gaza Strip exist without a blockade.
“We insist on this goal. In the case of Israeli procrastination or continued aggression, Hamas is ready with other Palestinian factions to resist on ground and politically and… to face all possibilities,” he continued.
Israel and Egypt maintain a blockade of Gaza to prevent Hamas, a terrorist group which violently seized control of the Strip from Mahmoud Abbas’s PA in 2007, from importing weapons and other components of its war machine.
The remarks by Mashaal, who lives in exile in Qatar, came as Israeli and Palestinian negotiators on Sunday accepted an Egyptian proposal for a 72-hour ceasefire in Gaza from one minute past midnight, local time (21:01 GMT).
A previous 72-hour ceasefire ended last Friday morning when Hamas resumed rocket fire at Israel, despite an offer from Jerusalem to continue the lull on humanitarian grounds.
Almost 2,000 people have been killed in Gaza in more than a month of fighting. Israel says 750-1,000 of the dead are Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, saying Hamas sets up rocket launchers and tunnel openings in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”
Israel has lost 64 soldiers and three civilians in the fighting. Eleven of the soldiers were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border. Hamas has fired over 3,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from areas close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army says.