Hamas deputy chief in the Gaza Strip, Khalil al-Hayya, has denied that the terror group is moving to achieve a long-term ceasefire deal with Israel.
“The talk about a calming for ten years or a halt of the resistance’s actions against the enemy is completely untrue,” Hayya told the pro-Hezbollah al-Akhbar newspaper in an interview published on Thursday.
“We are a resistance movement. The forms of [our] action may change, but we will not stop resisting the enemy,” he said, adding that weekly protests in the border region between Israel and Gaza constitute “one of the forms of resistance.”
The publication of Hayya’s comments comes three days after the Haaretz daily reported that Israel and Hamas were “[continuing] to hold indirect discussions on a long-term agreement,” without citing a source.
For more than the past year, Hamas has negotiated a series of unofficial ceasefire understandings with Israel.
The understandings have largely entailed Israel lifting restrictions on the movement of goods and people into and out of Gaza in exchange for Hamas and other terror groups in the coastal enclave maintaining relative quiet in the border region.
However, the informal agreements have not put an end to cross-border violence, as both Israel and terror groups in Gaza have recently participated in several short flare-ups.
Hayya added that Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh was in Cairo to agree “to a calming that does not shackle the hands of the resistance.”
Haniyeh arrived in Cairo on Monday to hold meetings with Egyptian officials “to follow up on many important files pertaining to the Palestinian cause,” Hamas’s Al-Aqsa TV reported earlier this week.
The Egyptian General Intelligence Services as well as the United Nations and Qatar have played key roles in brokering the understandings between Israel and the terror groups in Gaza.
Since he set foot in Cairo, Hamas has not announced whether Haniyeh had met with Egyptian officials, but it said on Tuesday that he held talks with Palestinian Islamic Jihad secretary-general Ziad al-Nakhalah.
Tensions between Hamas and Islamic Jihad recently appeared to be high after the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the former’s military wing, sat on the sidelines of the latest round of fighting in November with Israel.
The Al-Quds Brigades, Islamic Jihad’s military wing, was believed to have fired the highest number of rockets into Israel during that brief conflagration.
Hayya added that the Qassam Brigades possessed the ability to bombard large Israeli cities for months in any future war.
“The Qassam Brigades has grown in numbers and is producing everything that is needed in the Strip,” he said.
It is considered the most powerful military force in Gaza, possessing a large stockpile of rockets.
Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said in a speech in November that there were a total 70,000 armed fighters in Gaza.