World Bulletin / News Desk
Ismail Haniyeh, a leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement, said Friday that Palestinians would "never accept any regional or international plan that seeks to disarm the Palestinian resistance."
Haniyeh's statements come on the heels of a cease-fire deal last Tuesday that ended 51 days of devastating Israeli bombardments on the Gaza Strip that left more than 2,100 Palestinians dead.
The deal, reached through indirect talks between Palestinian and Israeli negotiators, was celebrated by Hamas as a "victory" over Israel, which had – during truce talks in Cairo – initially demanded the disarmament of Palestinian resistance factions.
"Palestinian negotiators in Cairo fought vociferously against Israel's demand for the disarmament of the resistance," Haniyeh said during a Friday sermon delivered in the rubble of a mosque in the Al-Shati refugee camp west of Gaza City, which was struck by Israeli warplanes during the recently-ended offensive.
"The Palestinians will only accept the disarmament of the resistance on condition that Israel, too, is disarmed," Haniyeh said. "Gaza has won on both the military and political levels."
Haniyeh led the government in the Gaza Strip since Hamas fell out with rival Palestinian faction Fatah in 2007.
He relinquished his post following the formation of a Palestinian unity government in the West Bank in June. Comprised of representatives from both Hamas and Fatah, the unity government was the product of a reconciliation deal between the two factions signed two months earlier.
The recently-concluded cease-fire deal with Israel, meanwhile, calls for opening all border crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel – which, if implemented, would signal the end of the latter's seven-year blockade of the coastal territory.
It also calls for expanding the zone in which Palestinian fishermen are allowed to ply their trade to six miles off the Gaza coast.
In his Friday sermon, Haniya said that priority would now be given to the strip's reconstruction and lifting Israel's years-long blockade by opening all the territory's border crossings.
Israel's highly destructive "Operation Protective Edge" – the deadliest assault on the Gaza Strip since Israeli withdrew from the territory in 2005 – left some 2,147 Gazans dead and 11,000 others injured, mostly civilians, while partially or completely destroying thousands of residential structures.
According to Israeli figures, 67 Israeli soldiers and five civilians were killed over the course of the operation – the highest military death toll for the self-proclaimed Jewish state since it lost 119 soldiers in its 2006 war on Lebanon.
According to the terms of the cease-fire, Palestinian and Israeli negotiators will hold further indirect negotiations for the release of Palestinian prisoners and the establishment of a Gaza seaport – the latter being a longstanding Palestinian demand – within one month.Last Mod: 05 Eylül 2014, 17:15