As IDF advances in Gaza, Hamas chief Haniyeh claims to seek ‘political negotiations’

Terror leader’s call for ceasefire and ‘two-state solution’ in stark contrast with colleague’s declared intention to stage repeats of Oct. 7 slaughter until Israel is eradicated

Gianluca Pacchiani is the Arab affairs reporter for The Times of Israel

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in a televised speech in which he called for a 'political solution' to the ongoing conflict with Israel, November 1, 2023. (Screenshot, Hamas Telegram channel)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in a televised speech in which he called for a 'political solution' to the ongoing conflict with Israel, November 1, 2023. (Screenshot, Hamas Telegram channel)

As the IDF advances deeper into the Gaza Strip, dismantles Hamas’s infrastructure and eliminates dozens of terrorists, the group’s leader Ismail Haniyeh announced in a televised statement on Wednesday that he is willing to engage in “political negotiations.”

“We are ready for political negotiations for a two-state solution with Jerusalem as the capital of Palestine,” Haniyeh said during his address, adding a caveat that the process can only begin on condition of a ceasefire and the opening of humanitarian corridors to bring more aid into Gaza.

Ismail Haniyeh’s ostensible willingness to engage in dialogue with Israel seemed wholly at odds with the statement of another member of the Hamas politburo, Ghazi Hamad, who declared last week that the terror group intends to perpetrate further massacres akin to the October 7 if only given the chance, until Israel is destroyed.

Haniyeh’s call for a ceasefire is a nonstarter for Israel and its allies, who have vowed to destroy the terror group.

On Monday, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu categorically dismissed the idea, saying that those calling for ceasefire are in effect calling for Israel to surrender to terrorism and barbarism.

“Just as the United States would not agree to a ceasefire after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, or after the terrorist attack of 9/11, Israel will not agree to a cessation of hostilities with Hamas,” he said during a press conference for foreign media.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a press conference with Defense Minister Yoav Gallant and Cabinet Minister Benny Gantz in the Kirya military base in Tel Aviv, Oct. 28, 2023. (Abir Sultan/Pool Photo via AP)

The UN General Assembly passed a nonbinding resolution on Friday demanding an immediate halt to hostilities in Gaza, which made no mention of Hamas. The passage of the resolution was hailed by the terror group.

As for Haniyeh’s request to open a humanitarian corridor into Gaza, Israel has allowed over 170 trucks carrying food and medicine to enter the blockaded Strip over the past two weeks.

Jerusalem has, however, not allowed the transfer of fuel, claiming that the terror group will use it to operate its weapons system and to ensure its members can continue to hide in a vast network of underground tunnels and bunkers, which need electricity and ventilation.

The IDF revealed on October 24 that Hamas possesses its own vast fuel reserves, a claim that was confirmed by Western and Arab officials to the New York Times last week. The terror group has also allegedly been stockpiling food and oil, keeping it from Gazan residents who are in desperate need. A senior Lebanese official told the newspaper that Hamas has enough supplies to sustain fighting for three to four months without a need for resupply.

Reports have emerged that the terror group has also stolen humanitarian aid delivered to the UNRWA, the UN agency that provides for Palestinian refugees in Gaza and their descendants, as well as fuel.

In his statement, Hamas leader Haniyeh also praised the support provided to the terror group by movements in Yemen, Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon, with reference to attacks against Israel over the past three weeks by Iran-backed groups in the region, namely the Houthis in Yemen, Hezbollah in Lebanon and various paramilitary factions in Syria.

An image shared by the IDF showing twelve oil tanks in which Hamas allegedly stores its reserves while the Gaza Strip is running out of fuel during the ongoing war with Israel, October 24, 2023. (IDF Arabic spokesman on X)

The war was sparked on October 7, when some 3,000 terrorists led by Hamas burst across the border into Israel from the Gaza Strip by land, air and sea, killing some 1,400 people under the cover of a deluge of thousands of rockets fired at Israeli towns and cities.

The vast majority of those killed as terrorists seized border communities were civilians — including babies, children and the elderly. Entire families were executed in their homes, and over 260 people were slaughtered at an outdoor festival, many amid horrific acts of brutality by the terrorists.

According to the Hamas-run health ministry, more than 9,000 Palestinians have been killed in the war, and more than 22,000 people have been wounded. The figure, which could not be confirmed, would be without precedent in decades of Israeli-Palestinian violence. Hamas has been accused of artificially inflating the death toll, and does not distinguish between civilians and terror operatives. Some of the dead are believed to be victims of Palestinian terrorists’ own misfired rockets.

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