Abbas adviser says ending Hamas rule over Gaza is a ‘religious duty’
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Abbas adviser says ending Hamas rule over Gaza is a ‘religious duty’

‘Afterwards, we can all free Jerusalem,’ says Mahmoud al-Habash, Palestinian Authority president’s religious affairs aide

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habash (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
PA Minister of Religious Affairs Mahmoud al-Habash (photo credit: Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

A senior Ramallah-based Palestinian official said on Friday that ending Hamas’s rule over the Gaza Strip is a “religious duty.”

Mahmoud al-Habash, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s religious affairs adviser, made the comments during Friday prayers at a mosque in the West Bank, which were attended by several PA officials.

“Some time before today, we said… that ending the Hamas entity’s rule over the Gaza Strip is a religious duty and a national necessity,” Habash said. “I insist on that and I say that day and night. Yes, it is a religious duty to liberate the Gaza Strip from Hamas.”

Hamas, an Islamist terror group that seeks to destroy Israel, has controlled Gaza since it ousted the Fatah-dominated PA in 2007 from the coastal enclave.

Members of the Hamas terror group’s military wing attend the funeral of six of its fighters at a cemetery in the Deir al-Balah refugee camp in the central Gaza Strip on May 6, 2018. (Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

In the past several years, both Fatah and Hamas have signed a number of agreements, including an Egyptian-brokered deal in October 2017, to bring Gaza under one government and advance reconciliation efforts, but the rival parties have failed to implement them.

A major issue of disagreement between Fatah and Hamas is the weapons of the armed groups in Gaza. Abbas, who serves as Fatah chairman, has said all weapons in the Strip should be under PA control. Hamas leaders, meanwhile have defended the “right” of armed groups in the Strip to possess weapons have not said they would be willing to hand them over to the PA.

Habash added that ending the terror group’s rule over Gaza is necessary “so that, afterwards, we can all free Jerusalem.”

The Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership has long supported the establishment of a Palestinian state along 1967 borders with East Jerusalem as its capital. Israel considers all of Jerusalem to be its capital.

Habash, a former minister of religious endowments and an ex-resident of Gaza, is known as one Hamas’s harshest and most fiery critics.

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