Gaza, Asharq Al-Awsat- Jamal Abu-Hashim, member of the Hamas movement’s political leadership, has disclosed that Israel has asked Hamas to stop the manufacturing of weapons and combat means as one of the guarantees for halting the movement’s growing strength in the Strip in addition to stopping the smuggling of weapons.
Abu-Hashim, who was a member of the Hamas delegation that visited Cairo to receive the Israeli response to the Egyptian truce initiative, said in statements to Asharq Al-Awsat that Israel tried to obtain as many achievements as possible and not give the Palestinian side anything in return from its response to the initiative. He pointed out that Israel is demanding that the resistance movements stop firing rockets, the bombings, and all forms of armed resistance against Israel while at the same refusing to comply with a specific time for lifting the blockade imposed on the Gaza Strip. He added that the movement presented to Egypt several queries to convey to the Israeli side, which General Amos Gilad, the head of the Israeli Defense Ministry’s Political and Military Department, was supposed to bring the replies to them during his meeting with Egyptian Intelligence Director Major General Omar Suleiman in Cairo yesterday.
According to Abu-Hashim, Israel is insisting on a period of time for testing the truce before it reopens the crossings and pointed out that Hamas asked Egypt about the period of “this test” in addition to asking about which crossings would be reopened and would they include the Rafah one which connects the Gaza Strip to Egypt. He added that Hamas also asked about the kind of materials that Israel would allow to enter after reopening the crossings and whether the quantities of commodities would be determined gradually and whether fuel would be included in the kind of materials allowed into the Strip. He stressed that lifting the blockade means for Hamas the complete and organized return of normal conditions in the Strip. He pointed out that Egypt views the truce between Israel and the resistance factions as the prelude for reaching apolitical solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Egypt is additionally seeking to complete a prisoners’ swap deal under which kidnapped Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit will be released and also revive the Palestinian national dialogue efforts. He stressed that his movement would resort to diplomatic and other options if the truce efforts failed so as to lift the blockade. He also underlined his movement’s commitment to the Palestinian consensus over the truce which makes stopping the Israeli aggression, lifting the blockade, and opening the crossings and in particular the Rafah one a condition for a mutual and simultaneous truce and its refusal to give Israel a free truce.
On the other hand, Gilad conveyed to Egyptian Intelligence Director Minister Umar Suleiman “the Israeli Government’s reply” to Hamas ‘s queries about the truce and which an informed Egyptian source called “indecisive” but did not divulge their contents. The Egyptian source said only that “Amos Gilad did not present a timetable for gradual truce and did not set a timetable for lifting the blockade. He promised a final answer to these two points after returning to his government.” The source added that Gilad “focused on the issue of weapons smuggling to Gaza and control of the borders between Egypt and the Strip during his talks with Suleiman that lasted three hours.”