Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas accused Hamas of needlessly extending the fighting in the Gaza Strip over the past two months, causing a high death toll.
Abbas told Palestine TV in remarks broadcast Friday that “it was possible for us to avoid all of that, 2,000 martyrs, 10,000 injured, 50,000 houses (damaged or destroyed).”
Israel and Hamas gunmen fought for 50 days before reaching a truce on Tuesday.
More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians, according to Hamas figures. Israel says 1,000 of the dead were Hamas and other gunmen. It also blames Hamas for all civilian fatalities, since Hamas set up its rocket-launchers, tunnel openings and other elements of its war machine in Gaza neighborhoods and uses Gazans as “human shields.”
Seventy one people on the Israeli side, among them six civilians, were killed.
Of the 65 military fatalities in Israel, 11 were killed by Hamas gunmen emerging from cross-border tunnels dug under the Israeli border.
Over the course of the conflict, Hamas fired almost 4,000 rockets at Israel, including some 600 from close to schools, mosques and other civilian facilities, the Israeli army said.
Several Egyptian-mediated ceasefire attempts failed. Hamas eventually accepted almost the same truce offered at the beginning.
Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority runs the West Bank, formed a unity government backed by Hamas earlier this year. Abbas questioned the future of that arrangement in the interview.
A senior official in the PA also told the Times of Israel that Hamas is preventing the PA from returning to Gaza Strip. He said that despite declarations by Hamas that it would cooperate with the PA to rebuild the Gaza Strip, it’s so far preventing the PA from doing so.
Before the conflict began in early July, Abbas appointed five governors for the districts of the Gaza Strip, and after the truce took effect on Tuesday he asked them to open offices there, the official said. The five unnamed governors were prevented from doing so by armed Hamas guards, because there has been no change at the Israeli border crossings, Erez and Kerem Shalom.
“The status of these crossings remains exactly as it was on the eve of the war,” he said, namely in the hands of Hamas.
The official called on Israel to renew peace talks with the PA, otherwise the two sides were bound for a complex diplomatic conflict.
Next week the PA plans to seek Arab League approval for Abbas’s plan to set a UN timetable for an Israeli withdrawal from the West Bank and the establishment of a Palestinian state. In September, it will bring the proposal to the Security Council and the General Assembly.
Should the US spike the motion with a Security Council veto, the PA has indicated it is prepared to turn to the International Criminal Court in the Hague in order to file suit against Israeli officials for alleged war crimes.
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