Hamas vowed on Monday to expand its military activities against Israel into Yehudah and Shomron, underscoring the challenges ahead as the organization began reconciliation with Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party.
An Egyptian-brokered deal last month saw Hamas transfer control of Gaza’s crossings with Israel and Egypt to the PA. Hamas was expected to take further steps to extend PA control over Gaza on December 1, but disagreements between the two parties have intensified.
To restore control of Gaza and secure its authority, Fatah demands Hamas neutralize its weapons arsenal, which Hamas used to eject Fatah and to fight three wars against Israel, in 2008, 2012 and 2014.
“These weapons will not be touched. It’s not for debate or talk,” Khalil al-Hayya, a senior Hamas official, told reporters in Gaza. Furthermore, he said, “These weapons will clearly move to the West Bank to battle the (Israeli) occupation there. It’s our right to fight the occupation until it ends.”
Al-Hayya’s remarks highlight stark differences between the two groups; the discussion of weapons has been delayed for future negotiations over broader national issues. They threatened to derail the Egyptian-mediated efforts to end a decade of Palestinian political and territorial split. On Monday, Egyptian security envoys hurried to Gaza to meet with Fatah and Hamas officials to try to save the agreement from further setbacks.