Hamas: War With Israel Unlikely and Relations with Egypt Improving

GAZA/YERUSHALAYIM (Reuters/Hamodia) -
Hamas Israel
An Egyptian soldier stands guard on the border between southern Gaza Strip and Egypt on Sunday. (Reuters/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)

Hamas played down on Sunday the possibility that the energy crisis in the Gaza Strip would lead to renewed hostilities with Israel, after threatening violence over it last week, and said relations with Egypt were improving.

“We in Hamas do not start wars and we do not expect one, this is our political assessment,” Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’s deputy leader in the Gaza Strip, told reporters in Gaza. Hamas terrorist activities, including a barrage of rockets on southern Israel in 2014, have led to three armed conflicts.

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said last week that Israel is not seeking a military escalation with Hamas, after a Cabinet decision to reduce electricity supplies to Gaza due to non-payment. The Palestinian Authority has limited how much it pays for power to the area. Israeli officials have said the failure to pay for electricity is the result of an internal dispute between Hamas and the PA.

Separately, a Palestinian official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said on Sunday that Cairo had agreed in talks last week with a Hamas delegation to sell the group fuel to get the Gaza Strip’s only power station back online.

Fuel for the small plant ran out two months ago, and a resumption of operations could give Gazans power for eight hours a day, about twice what they have currently.

There was no immediate word from Egyptian officials on whether a deal had been struck, and Hayya declined to confirm any agreement.

He said Hamas’s newly elected Gaza leader, Yehya al-Sinwar, had met in Cairo with Egyptian officials and discussed securing the frontier with Egypt’s Sinai peninsula, where Islamist State terrorists have killed hundreds of policemen and soldiers.

Egypt has accused Hamas of aiding the terrorists, and has kept its border crossing with the Gaza Strip largely closed.