With a key deadline looming, the Gaza-based Islamic terror group Hamas has again refused to disarm. The Times of Israel reports that the movement is instead threatening to expand its attacks against Israel into the West Bank.
The deadline at risk: By Friday, Hamas is due to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the Palestinian Authority (PA) under the terms of a landmark reconciliation deal signed last month with Fatah, the PA’s controlling party and Hamas’ once-bitter rival.
One of the key sticking points has been whether Hamas will disarm. Middle East observers are watching to see if the group’s refusal to put down its weapons will derail an Egyptian-brokered truce intended to end a decade of Palestinian political and territorial fighting.
Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, told a press conference early this week that his group emphatically rejects demands that militant groups in Gaza disarm as a part of efforts to reunite the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
“The weapons of the resistance are a red line that is non-debatable,” al-Hayya stated.
Al-Hayya also said weapons used in the Gaza Strip to fight Israel will be transferred to the West Bank. “These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to fight the occupation,” he said. “It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends.”
Hamas has been completely candid about its goal of destroying Israel.
Disarm or derail the deal?
Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas has said his government will not take responsibility for Gaza until Hamas and other militant groups lay down their weapons.
“There will only be one weapon, one authority and one law” in the West Bank, Gaza PA Civil Affairs Minister Hussein al-Sheikh told the Jerusalem Post reported on Sunday.
About 400,000 Israelis live in settlements in the West Bank, alongside nearly 3 million Palestinians. In Gaza, which Hamas has ruled since 2007, there have been no Israeli settlers since the Jewish state’s withdrawal from the territory in 2005.
Hamas’ military wing is thought to have an estimated 25,000 members, who wield thousands of rockets, guns and other weapons. Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and other terror groups also have armed wings in the Gaza Strip.
The coming days and weeks will be interesting, as we watch to see whether the Palestinian Authority – which has actually cooperated with Israel on security in the West Bank – will prevail. It’s hard to imagine Hamas disarming, especially in light of their non-stop threats against the State of Israel.
My objective is to be sure you’re aware of these developments, so you can both watch and pray for Israel and her people. The focus of our prayers, as always, should be their safety, protection, and their salvation in Yeshua (Jesus).
Thank you for your love for Israel. Thank you also for your partnership and friendship with Jewish Voice. We are so grateful for your support. Together we are witnessing lives transformed as we work to see all Israel saved.