Hamas vows unity with Fatah as rockets hit Gaza
Palestinian women and members of Hamas security forces march in formation during a graduation ceremony for new recruits in Gaza City on Dec 27. AFP photoGaza’s Hamas rulers are committed to making good on a long-awaited reconciliation deal with their Fatah rivals, a spokesman for the Islamist movement said Dec. 27, while Israel carried out a series of airstrikes on the Gaza Strip to target a “terror squad.”
“Hamas is committed to making the reconciliation agreement work and implementing it as a demonstration of the unity of the Palestinian people in the face of occupation,” said Sami Abu Zuhri. Speaking at a news conference to mark three years since the start of Operation Cast Lead, Israel’s devastating 22-day offensive against the enclave, Abu Zuhri said negotiations with Israel had “only brought our people harm.” “The occupation is trying to bargain with us over negotiations and we say: ‘We don’t want them,’” he said, referring to Israeli threats to pull the plug on talks with the Palestinians should Fatah and Hamas reconcile their differences and form a unity government. “The occupation’s threat that there will not be any negotiations after the reconciliation is a great achievement of the resistance,” he said.
Since 2007, the Palestinian territories have been politically divided into two separate territories, with the Fatah of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas largely ruling the West Bank and Hamas governing Gaza. In May, following years of bitter rivalry, the two factions signed a reconciliation deal, of which implementation has since stalled. Last week, Abbas met Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal in Cairo and the two agreed on a process that would pave the way for the Islamist group to join a reformed Palestine Liberation Organization and for long-delayed Palestinian elections. Speaking to AFP shortly after the meeting, a member of the Hamas politburo in Damascus confirmed that the faction had taken the strategic decision to join the PLO under Abbas’ leadership.
Meanwhile, a rocket was fired from Gaza into southern Israel yesterday morning without exploding or causing any casualties or damage, Israeli police said. “A rocket fired from Gaza fell this morning in the area of Shaar Hanegev. The device did not explode, and there were no injuries or damage,” police spokesman Louba Samri told AFP. The attack came after two Israeli air raids on the Gaza Strip killed at least one Palestinian and wounded about 20 others late Dec. 27.
The Israeli military said the strikes were against “global jihad” targets in the Palestinian territory who were planning cross-border attacks from neighboring Egypt. In a statement, the military gave a list of the militants’ names and said one of them used to be in Hamas before joining an even more radical jihad group, according to an Associated Press report. Such Israeli air attacks have been relatively rare since the end of a three-week Israeli war against Gaza militants three years ago.