Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat – The Hamas movement is facing major difficulties in convincing Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip to adhere to a truce with Israel, informed Palestinian sources have revealed to Asharq Al-Awsat.
The Palestinian source, who spoke to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, said that heated discussions have taken place in the last two days between Hamas and the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. Hamas was represented by senior figures Ayman Taha, Khalil al-Haya, and Abu Hashim. The Palestinian factions refused to commit to any truce with Israel so long as the Israeli forces continue to attack the Gaza Strip.
Hamas carried out intense talks with Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip over the past two days, holding individual and bilateral meetings with a number of the factions who are located there, most notably Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine [PFLP], the Popular Resistance Committees [PRC], and other affiliated armed movements, in order to establish a ceasefire [with Israel].
The source also told Asharq Al-Awsat that the discussions between Hamas and the leadership of Islamic Jihad and the PFLP were very heated, particularly after Hamas objected to the [military] escalation against Israeli carried out by the military wings of Islamic Jihad and PFLP. Islamic Jihad and PFLP recently announced that they were responsible for firing rockets into Israel, and have clashed with Israel forces on the borders of the Gaza Strip.
The source told Asharq Al-Awsat “the leaderships of the Palestinian factions informed the Hamas movement that there is no truce, but rather an internal Palestinian agreement on the assessment of the situation.” The source added that the Palestinian factions had stressed that they would not “stand idly by in the face of Israeli aggression.”
Hamas called on the Palestinian factions to stop any form of [military] escalation against Israel, and to abort any planned operations in order to avoid new Israeli operations against the Gaza Strip. Hamas stressed that it was acting in order to spare the Palestinians a renewal of conflict and more casualties.
Senior Hamas figure Ayman Taha said that his movement is in talks with the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip in order to ease the situation on the ground, which is increasingly tense these days. However Hamas’s calls for commitment to a truce was strongly rejected by some Palestinian factions who responded that such an approach is not correct at a time that Israel continues to kill Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank.
A source who was involved in these talks between Hamas and the Palestinian factions told Asharq Al-Awsat that “they [Hamas] told us that they want to calm the situation in order to avoid war…however what is happening now? There is a blockade [of the Gaza Strip], people being killed, a lack of medicine, as well as houses, fishermen, resistance headquarters, and [smuggling] tunnels being attacked, and daily intrusions; aren’t these features of war?”
It therefore appears that the Palestinian factions are moving to reject Hamas’s call for the continuance of a truce by rejecting that there is a truce in place at all, although they have agreed not to further escalate the situation, whilst reserving the right to respond to any Israeli escalation.
The source within the Palestinian resistance also claimed that Hamas is deploying plain-clothes security officers along the Gaza Strip’s borders in order to prevent any Palestinian faction from firing rockets at Israeli settlements bordering Gaza.
However senior Hamas figure Ayman Taha refrained from answering questions put to him by Asharq Al-Awsat on this issue, refusing to confirm or deny that Hamas are deploying undercover security officers along the Gaza Strip’s borders to prevent escalation. However Taha did tell Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas and the Gaza government is seeking to achieve, through communications with the national factions, a comprehensive national agreement in the greater interests of Palestine.
Ayman Taha also stressed that Hamas succeeded in reaching common ground with other Palestinian factions on how to manage the confrontation with the occupation forces. Taha praised the response of the Palestinian factions, as well as the efforts of the Hamas movement and Gaza government in this regards, stressing that all parties agree on the importance of not falling into the traps laid by the Israelis, who are seeking a way out of the worsening crisis that they are facing.
Asharq Al-Awsat also spoke to prominent Islamic Jihad member Daoud Shehab about the position of his movement with regards to Hamas’s request for adhering to the truce. Shehab told Asharq Al-Awsat that “a truce means an agreement between two sides, and there is no agreement. What was present was a ceasefire agreement following the war on Gaza, and this ceasefire no longer exists.”
He added “Israel did not adhere to this ceasefire, and it continued its aggression and war against the Gaza Strip in different forms…they have killed people, implemented a blockade, increased settlement activity…all of these are features of war.”
Shehab also confirmed that Islamic Jihad, which is the second strongest armed group in the Gaza Strip, had informed Hamas that “there is nothing called a ceasefire, but there is the resistance factions appreciation of the position and needs of the people of Palestine…but this does not meant that the factions will stand idly by in the face of [Israeli] aggression.”
He added “Israel has escalated [its operations] significantly, and there is a difficult and dangerous trend recently from assassinations and different forms of aggression… the resistance has become necessity with regards to responding to such aggression, and that is our job.”