Hamas leader does 180 after urging to 'bring calm to Israel'
AP Photo/Adel Hana
One day after vowing to “reach an understanding that will bring calm to Israel,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh did an about-face, cheering for the continued violence on Gaza's border.
“The strength of will and the determination of our people in the March of Return will lead to victory over the crimes of the occupation,” he said while attending funerals for those killed in Friday’s violent riots. “The blood of the martyrs brings us closer to victory over the Zionist enemy.”
Ahead of the protests Friday, Haniyeh seemed to be championing a possible peace agreement with Israel that has been in discussions recently, much to the behest of the Palestinian Authority (PA), which has become increasingly sidelined in the negotiations involving other states in the region as well as the UN.
Haniyeh announced that in exchange for the terrorist group agreeing to a truce and an end to the weekly violent protests and confrontations on the Israel-Gaza border, Hamas would demand the lifting of the Israeli blockade of the Gaza Strip.
Rumors have been circulating recently that a multilateral agreement between Hamas and various elements in the region, with Qatar pledging this week $150 million, including for fuel supply, in humanitarian aid for Gaza.
But on Saturday, Haniyeh had taken an entirely different tone, saying that the violence would not cease until the “siege on Jerusalem, Al-Aqsa and all the lands of Palestine is lifted.”
The change in attitude comes after seven Palestinians were killed in Friday’s protests as well as the murder of a Palestinian woman by settlers in the West Bank as she was driving with her husband.
IDF said it had thwarted a terror attack as some 20 Palestinians crossed the security fence after they damaged it with an explosive.
The army used live ammunition and riot dispersal means in response to other violent activity among the 15,000 rioters in several locations, with some of them throwing various explosives, molotov cocktails, stones and burning tires.
In response to the violence, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman decided Friday evening to cut off the flow of fuel into Gaza in light of Friday's violence.
"Israel will not tolerate a situation in which fuel tankers are allowed to enter Gaza on the one hand, while terror and violence are used against IDF soldiers and Israeli citizens on the other."
Yet Haniyeh vowed not to be swayed by material propositions, saying on Saturday that “our marches are not for diesel fuel and dollars, but a natural right of our people.”
Israeli cabinet member Yoav Gallant fired back on Saturday, saying that Hamas is “using the blood of civilians to provoke international attention,” and branding the group as Israel’s “weakest and most aggressive enemy, a puppy that barks and shouts.”
At least 205 Palestinians in Gaza have been killed since protests and clashes erupted along the border on March 30. 50 of those killed have been identified as members of Hamas.
One Israeli soldier has been killed.
The protesters are demanding to be allowed to return to lands now inside Israel, from which their families fled or were displaced during the 1948 war surrounding the creation of the Jewish state.
They are also calling for Israel to end its crippling blockade of the strip.
Israel accuses the enclave's Islamist rulers Hamas of leading the protests and using them as a cover for attacks.
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