WASHINGTON — The White House on Wednesday called on Hamas, the terror group that rules Gaza and has been galvanizing weekly violent protests there, to cede control of the coastal territory to the Fatah-led Palestinian Authority.
The Israel Defense Forces has so far killed 30 Palestinians in border clashes over the past two weeks, according to the Hamas-run Gazan health ministry. One was apparently shot in the torso while wearing a “press” vest and filming in an area engulfed in thick black smoke caused by protesters setting tires on fire.
In a series of tweets, US President Donald Trump’s special Middle East envoy, Jason Greenblatt, decried Hamas’s Gaza leader, Yahya Sinwar, who has helped orchestrate and encourage the demonstrations, billed as the “March of Return.”
Greenblatt specifically cited a speech Sinwar gave days ago in which he asserted Palestinians would “tear down the wall and tear out their (Israeli’s) hearts.”
“This message is monstrous,” he said.
“Is this what a leader does?” he went on. “This only hurts the Palestinians of Gaza. This old-line of thinking and ideology hurts all Palestinians. This can cause the situation to escalate and many lives could be lost. Will Hamas ever learn?”
Greenblatt did not mention, and has not mentioned, Israel’s military response to the protests, which critics have decried as disproportionate.
Along with Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner, Greenblatt has led the administration’s efforts to broker an Israeli-Palestinian peace deal.
He closed his tweets by reiterating the US position that Hamas, which the US State Department labels a terrorist organization, must surrender its political control of the strip.
The only other alternative, he suggested, was for the theocratic group to reverse several of its firmly rooted positions, including its commitment to destroying Israel.
“Hamas must relinquish its control of Gaza to the PA and disarm,” he stated. “If it wants to join the REAL world, it must renounce violence, recognize Israel, and decide to abide by past agreements. It’s time for Hamas to make some real decisions.”