Hamas rejects disarmament, vows attacks on Israel ahead of reconciliation deadline
SAID KHATIB (AFP/File)
Palestinian movement Hamas again refused to disarm on Monday ahead of a key reconciliation deadline, instead threatening to carry out attacks against Israel in the West Bank.
By Friday, the Islamists are due to hand over control of the Gaza Strip to the internationally recognized Palestinian government, based in the West Bank.
But the future of their armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades, remains unclear.
"The weapons of the resistance are a red line that is non-debatable," Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, told a press conference, referring to the Qassam Brigades.
"These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to fight the occupation. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends."
The United States and Israel have said they will reject any reconciliation agreement leading to a unity government including Hamas unless it disarms.
Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas has also said there will only be one security force in the Palestinian territories.
The reconciliation agreement signed on October 12 in Cairo does not specify a future for the Qassam Brigades.
The Palestinian Authority's minister of civil affairs said Sunday that Hamas is dragging its feet in ceding control of the Gaza Strip, with the PA having assumed authority over only 5 percent of affairs just days ahead of a looming December 1 deadline to hand over power.
Minister of Civil Affairs Hussein al-Sheikh told the PA's official newscast that its government workers have been prevented from taking back their old administrative offices and that thousands of former employees who worked for the PA in various Gaza ministries before Islamist Hamas took over the enclave in 2007 have yet to return to work.
Sheikh said the PA has also struggled to assert full authority over Gaza's border crossings, which were handed over to the PA on November 1.
An Egyptian security delegation arrived in the Gaza Strip on Monday afternoon ahead of the December 1 deadline in order to supervise the full transfer of power from Hamas to the Palestinian Authority.
Hamas, which is considered a terrorist organization by the United States and the European Union, has fought three wars with Israel since 2008.
Multiple previous reconciliation attempts between the Palestinian factions have failed.
(Staff with AFP)
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They have chosen death instead of life. Let it be according to their choice.