Hamas’ chief Ismail Haniyeh on Thursday accused Israel of dragging its feet in carrying out its obligations under an indirect cease-fire for the Gaza Strip, saying the fragile deal was in danger of collapsing.
Israel, citing multiple breaches, says Hamas has not kept its part of the bargain either. The Gaza terror group continues to fire incendiary balloons to torch farmlands in southern Israel and keeps “rioting” along the volatile frontier. It says its troops open fire to defend a sovereign border and accuses Hamas of using the crowds as cover to stage attacks.
Speaking to international journalists, Haniyeh said the 2 million residents of Gaza “have not felt” any improvement in their living condition, despite what he said were Israeli pledges to ease a crippling blockade on the territory. The unofficial truce was brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the U.N. after a round of heavy fighting in May.
“The understanding (is) in the danger zone because (Israel) doesn’t implement its obligations and deals with them with mood swings,” Haniyeh told reporters in Gaza City in a two-hour meeting organized by the Jerusalem-based Foreign Press Association. He called the deal “wobbly.”
Asked why Hamas won’t talk directly to Israel for a better chance to implement the deal, Haniyeh said his group, which was founded based on the goal of destroying Israel, has “obstructive lines on talking directly to the Israeli occupation.” He said that talking directly with Israel at this time would be “a national crime.”
Haniyeh accused Israel of delaying pledges to increase power supplies to Gaza, merely narrowing a long list of banned materials and several times preventing fishermen from sailing at all instead of expanding the permissible fishing zone as agreed. He added that U.N.-sponsored job-creation programs to alleviate Gaza’s unemployment, now more than 50%, have benefited just 3,500 Palestinians, short of the target of 40,000.
Israel reimposed restrictions on Gaza coastal fishing as a punitive measure after a series of Gaza-based arson attacks. The expansion of the zone was explicitly conditioned on good behavior from the Gaza side.
Haniyeh said Hamas is “95% committed” to the truce and those who fire the balloons were “children.” He did not explain why his men could not control the “children.”
Meanwhile, Haniyeh said Palestinian factions will hold massive demonstrations on the eve of a workshop Washington is organizing in the Bahraini capital, Manama, next week. There, the Trump administration is expected to reveal the economic part of its long-awaited plan to resolve the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.