A senior Hamas official says in an interview that he expects a ceasefire between the group’s Gaza branch and Israel within a day, but warns that Hamas has “no shortage of missiles.”
Osama Hamdan also tells The Associated Press that Mohammed Deif, an elusive Hamas commander who has been hunted by Israel for decades, is alive and remains in charge of Gaza military operations.
Deif, also known as Abu Khaled, is by far Israel’s most wanted target in Gaza. He has survived multiple Israeli assassination attempts and is rarely seen in public. Israeli media have said there were two more failed attempts during the current Israel-Hamas war, the fourth in just over a decade.
Hamdan tells the AP that Deif is “still heading the operation and directing the joint operations” of Hamas’ military wing, the Qassam Brigades, and other factions. He provides no evidence for that statement.
Since the conflict began, Israel has leveled a number of Gaza City’s tallest office and residential buildings, alleging they house elements of the Hamas military infrastructure.
On Saturday, an Israeli strike destroyed the 12-story al-Jalaa Building, an office and residential tower where the offices of the AP and the TV network Al-Jazeera were located. The military gave a warning ahead of the strike and occupants evacuated safely.
Hamdan denies there was any military presence belonging to Hamas or any other armed group in the building.
In the interview, Hamdan says his group could continue bombarding Israel for months if it chose to do so.
“I can assure that what we saw during the first days in terms of bombarding Tel Aviv and some areas in Jerusalem, can continue not only for days or weeks but for months,” says Hamdan. But he adds that he believes a ceasefire announcement is near.
Hamdan, who is based in Beirut, is a member of Hamas’s powerful decision-making political bureau.
Hamdan says Egypt and Qatar have been involved in ceasefire negotiations and suggested that progress was being made. “This is the tentative vision that I believe that within 24 hours will lead to an understanding or an agreement,” he adds.
During the current fighting, Hamas missiles have been hitting deeper inside Israel and with greater accuracy than ever before, including several barrages on Tel Aviv.
Hamdan says the arsenal was far from being depleted. “There is no shortage of missiles,” he says, without elaborating.