Palestinian, Arab officials urge Hamas to disarm before it is destroyed – report

Terror group said warned by various figures of influence that it will not survive the Israeli offensive, and should prevent further destruction in Gaza

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (third right), and top official Khalem Mashaal (second right), are seen meeting with Fatah's Nasser al-Qudwa (second left) and Samir al-Mashrawi (third left) in Qatar on November 22, 2023. (Courtesy)
Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh (third right), and top official Khalem Mashaal (second right), are seen meeting with Fatah's Nasser al-Qudwa (second left) and Samir al-Mashrawi (third left) in Qatar on November 22, 2023. (Courtesy)

Officials from moderate Arab nations as well as Palestinian figures of influence have appealed to Hamas recently to consider disarming itself in the Gaza Strip, warning the leaders of the terror group that it would not survive Israel’s offensive there, Channel 12 news reported Wednesday.

The report cited “non-Israeli sources” but did not say whether the Palestinian figures in question were members of the Palestinian leadership in Ramallah or otherwise.

The network’s Arab affairs analyst Ehud Yaari said top Hamas leaders inside the Gaza Strip and abroad have been warned that Israel will defeat the organization, and that it would be better for the group to lay down its arms and prevent unnecessary further destruction in Gaza.

Yaari said the Palestinian figures in question also suggested that, should Hamas disarm, it could join the leadership of the Palestine Liberation Organization as a purely political party.

Yaari noted that two Fatah members, Nasser al-Qudwa, nephew of the late Yasser Arafat, and Samir al-Mashrawi, a former top Fatah security official in Gaza, met Wednesday with Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh in Qatar, indicating the discussion may have touched on the disarmament proposal.

He also stressed that Hamas does not appear to have offered any answer on the matter so far.

The report did not mention the role of Hamas’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar, in any such discussions. Sinwar, seen as the mastermind of the October 7 atrocities, is considered to be one of the most militant, intractable figures in the terror organization.

Israel has been conducting an aggressive offensive against Hamas in Gaza for the past 47 days, in the wake of Hamas’s brutal assault on southern Israel on October 7, during which thousands of terrorists broke through the border and ransacked Israeli communities, massacring civilians in their homes and at a rave music festival. Over 1,200 people were murdered, the majority of them civilians, and more than 240 others were taken hostage into Gaza.

It was the single worst attack in Israel’s history, catching Israeli intelligence bodies and security forces completely off guard. The country’s leaders have since then vowed to destroy Hamas and eliminate its leadership, engaging in an air and ground campaign that has so far focused mostly on Hamas power centers in northern Gaza, but which is expected to move to the south in due course.

Israeli troops in the Gaza Strip, on November 21, 2023, during the ongoing war against Hamas. (Israel Defense Forces)

Hamas’s leadership in Gaza is believed to be hiding in underground bunkers and tunnels in southern Gaza.

Israel and Hamas have agreed to a temporary truce that is expected to start on Thursday morning, in exchange for the release of at least 50 hostages held by Hamas.

Under the deal, Israel will release 150 Palestinian security prisoners in return for its hostages. The truce is set to last at least four days, but could be extended by a few more days in exchange for the release of more hostages.

Israeli leaders have stressed that they will not bow to expected international pressures to extend the truce beyond that, however, and will return with full force to the campaign to eliminate Hamas once it expires.

Yahya Sinwar, head of Hamas in Gaza, delivers a speech during a meeting with people at a hall on the sea side of Gaza City, April 30, 2022. (AP Photo/Adel Hana)

When fighting resumes following the expected four-day truce, and the military expands its ground offensive into the southern part of the Strip, the IDF has indicated that it has no plans to allow Palestinians to move back to northern Gaza.

The Times of Israel has learned that the IDF instead plans to direct the civilian population to areas away from the expected ground offensive in southern Gaza, in order to reduce civilian casualties.

The Hamas-run Gaza health ministry claims that over 14,000 people have been killed in Gaza since the start of the war, including at least 5,500 children and 3,500 women. The figures provided by the terror group cannot be independently verified and do not differentiate between civilians and Hamas operatives, and also do not distinguish between those killed by Israeli airstrikes and those killed by failed Palestinian rocket launches, such as the one that hit the Al-Ahli hospital in October.

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