A senior Hamas official said Thursday that the Gaza-based terror group is not looking to start another round of conflict with Israel.
“We are not seeking a war and are committed to the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire as long as Israel is,” said Khalil al-Hayya, who was elected the deputy leader of the group’s executive committee in Gaza in February.
Egypt brokered a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas to end the 50-day summer 2014 war known as Operation Protective Edge.
His comments came at the end of an hour-long speech that generally addressed problems in Gaza caused by disputes among Palestinian factions.
The remarks come after several weeks of raised tensions between Hamas and Israel, particularly over the assassination of a senior Hamas leader that the group blamed on Israel. There have also been several rockets fired from Gaza into Israel and IDF retaliatory strikes.
Israel has fought three major rounds of conflict with Hamas since the terror group seized control of Gaza from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah group in 2007.
The Hamas deputy leader argued that sustaining the ceasefire is in Hamas’s best interests as it is the most “useful” way of allowing the rebuilding of Gaza after the destructive 2014 war, reducing the suffering of Gazans, and giving Hamas time to “build our strength in order to attain liberation.”
However, Hayya added, “Let the Zionist enemy know that if it declares war, it will find what the resistance and the Qassam brigades have to harm it.”
Hayya agin blamed Israel for the assassination of the terror chief Mazen Faqha, saying Hamas has “facts, people and documents connected to the assassination.”
However, Hayya did not repeat the threats to retaliate against Israel made by Hamas leaders immediately after the killing.
Israel has denied involvement in the assassination, which Hamas has blamed on Palestinian collaborators with Israel’s intelligence agencies.
Faqha, 38, originally from the West Bank, had received nine life sentences for planning a 2002 suicide bombing in Israel in which nine people were killed and 52 were wounded.
Gaza in crisis amid Palestinian infighting
Hayya’s speech was largely aimed at placing blame on Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas for two crises currently ailing the Gaza Strip.
“Abbas alone is carrying out the battle against Gaza… it is not supported by all the components of Fatah,” Hayya said.
On Sunday, Gaza’s only power plant stopped working due to a fuel shortage. Hamas said it cannot afford to buy more fuel because of high taxes placed on the product by the PA.
Gaza’s health ministry warned on Monday the crisis could lead to a halt in vital medical services for the Strip.
Gaza is also dealing with a 30-50% salary cut to tens of thousands of government employees put in place by the PA earlier this month.
The PA has said the salaries were cut because its budget has been dramatically reduced as donor countries are giving less.
It has also said Hamas’s mishandling of the energy situation in Gaza has led to the current fuel shortage.
In his speech on Tuesday, Hayya said no one from the Fatah party has reached out to Hamas in order to solve the crises.