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Hamas chief says will decide on post-war Gaza rule with Palestinian factions

By AFP

May 16, 2024 10:14 AM


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Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh on Wednesday said the militant movement will be involved in deciding post-war rule in Gaza along with other Palestinian factions.

"We say that the Hamas movement is here to stay ... and it will be the movement and all national (Palestinian) factions who will decide the post-war rule in Gaza," Haniyeh said in a televised address.

He also said the fate of truce talks was uncertain because of Israel's "insistence on occupying the Rafah crossing and on its expansion of the aggression" in the Palestinian territory since the October 7 Hamas attacks.

Haniyeh's address marked the 76th anniversary of the "Nakba", when around 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the 1948  creation of Israel.

Haniyeh reiterated the movement's position concerning truce talks that have again hit an impasse.

"Any agreement must ensure a permanent ceasefire, comprehensive withdrawal (of Israeli forces) from all sectors of the Gaza Strip, a real deal for exchange of prisoners, the return of displaced persons, reconstruction and lifting the siege" of Gaza, Haniyeh said.

His comments came after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said any discussion on who rules Gaza after the war was just "empty talk" as long as Hamas remains in the territory.

"Until it is clear that Hamas does not militarily control Gaza, no entity will be willing to take civilian management of Gaza for fear of its well-being," Netanyahu said in a statement.

"The first condition for preparing the ground for another entity is to destroy Hamas, and to do so without making excuses," he said.

However, Israeli Defence Minister Yoav Gallant appeared to challenge Netanyahu, saying it had to be Palestinian entities ruling Gaza after Hamas had been defeated.

"I call on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to make a decision and declare that Israel will not establish civilian control over the Gaza strip," Gallant said on Wednesday evening, calling for a "governing alternative to Hamas" immediately.

Gallant said Israel's military action in Gaza needed to be followed by political action.

"The day after Hamas will only be achieved with Palestinian entities taking control of Gaza, accompanied by international actors, establishing a governing alternative to Hamas' rule," he said.

"This, above all, is in interest of the state of Israel."

The war broke out after Hamas's October 7 attack on southern Israel which resulted in the deaths of more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

The militants also seized about 250 hostages, 128 of whom Israel estimates remain in Gaza, including 36 the military says are dead.

Israel's military retaliation has killed at least 35,233 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry. An Israeli siege has brought dire food shortages and the threat of famine.

Israeli forces kill 3 in West Bank

Israeli troops shot and killed three men during clashes in the occupied West Bank, Palestinian officials said early Thursday.

Several others were injured during the confrontation between Israeli forces and Palestinian activists in the town of Tulkarm in the northwest of the territory, the Palestinian Authority's health ministry told AFP.

"3 martyrs shot by the occupation forces in Tulkarm," the ministry said.

It identified those killed as Ayman Ahmad Mubarak, 26, Husam Imad Daabas, 22 and Mohammed Yusif Nasrallah, 27.

According to the official Palestinian news agency Wafa, the three men were killed during an Israeli raid on the town shortly after midnight.

Earlier in the day, the health ministry said Israeli troops killed a young man at a checkpoint on the outskirts of Ramallah shortly after the annual march marking what Palestinians call the Nakba, or "catastrophe" of 1948.

Thousands marched across the West Bank to commemorate the 76th anniversary of when around 760,000 Palestinians fled or were driven from their homes during the war that led to Israel's creation.

This week's anniversary comes against the backdrop of the war raging in Gaza, which has displaced most of the strip's population.

Violence has surged in the West Bank after Hamas's unprecedented October 7 attack on Israel, which killed more than 1,170 people, mostly civilians, according to an AFP tally of Israeli official figures.

Israel's retaliatory campaign in Gaza has killed at least 35,233 people, mostly civilians, according to the Gaza health ministry.

Including the three deaths announced Thursday, at least 502 Palestinians have been killed by Israeli soldiers and settlers in the West Bank since October 7, according to the Palestinian health ministry's count.

At least 20 Israelis have been killed in Palestinian attacks over the same period, according to an AFP tally based on official Israeli figures.


AFP


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