Ramallah, Asharq Al-Awsat- The Hamas movement has criticized global efforts aiming to develop mechanisms to prevent it smuggling weapons into the Gaza Strip.
Ahmed Yusuf, an adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, described these attempts as “mere rhetoric”. He told Asharq Al-Awsat, “The resistance, with its weapons, is a legitimate right and it will continue to provide weapons by any means in order to continue the act of resistance.” He added, “Whether there are tunnels or not, the resistance will get weapons one way or another”.
In response, the Palestinian Authority (PA) stated that it supported any efforts towards depriving Israel of pretexts to launch an offensive against Gaza again.
Agriculture Minister Mahmoud al Habbash told Asharq Al-Awsat: “We stand by all efforts that involve protecting the Gaza Strip. Israel uses a number of excuses to attack Gaza, including the presence of weapons and rockets, and we want to eradicate these pretexts.”
Al Habbash hinted that the PA will take part in any international efforts to prevent the smuggling of weapons into Gaza. He said, “Gaza is part of the PA’s territories and the PA cannot abandon it.”
Israeli Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni has tried to put more pressure on Hamas by involving powerful states in the plan to combat and prevent the smuggling of weapons to Hamas.
On January 16, Livni signed a memorandum of understanding with former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to restrict the flow of weapons to the Gaza Strip. She stated that memorandum of understanding was equivalent to an agreement between key international players to take a series of measures to stop the flow of weapons into the Gaza Strip, indicating the main supplier of these weapons is Iran.
Moreover, PLO secretary Yasser Abed Rabbo stated to Asharq Al-Awsat that Hamas is advancing a regional conspiracy to turn Gaza into a separate entity cut off from the West Bank, and to set it up as a dark emirate supported by Iran.
He said that Hamas had shifted the aim of its rifle barrels from Israel to Fatah members, and turned mosques, schools and hospitals into interrogation centers for torturing Fatah members.