Hamas agrees with Egypt to avoid Gaza escalation, chief says
AP Photo/ Khalil Hamra
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar confirmed on Wednesday that his group has agreed to a request by Egypt to stop the violence in Gaza from sliding into a full-blown military conflagration with Israel.
Israel and the US have both blamed Hamas for the killing of 60 Palestinians by Israeli fire on Monday, after seven previous weeks of demonstrations along the Gaza border in which dozens more died.
Sinwar, who is the Islamist militant group's leader in Gaza, told Al Jazeera that Hamas "has assured our Egyptian brothers" that there will not be "a military confrontation with Israel."
He also told the pan-Arab network that Hamas has promised Egyptian intelligence that future marches will be peaceful and demilitarized.
The march organizers, which included a raft of Palestinian groups, had insisted that the 'Great March of Return' demonstrations in Gaza would be peaceful.
However Israel accused Hamas of hijacking the demonstrations to carry out acts of terror and attempt to infiltrate into Israel.
Sinwar's interview was broadcast just hours after another Hamas official said 50 members of the group were among the 60 killed on Monday.
Despite Egypt's efforts at mediation, gunfire emanating from Gaza sparked a new flare-up of violence with Israel on Wednesday.
Sinawr also urged the Western-backed Palestinian Authority (PA), Hamas' internal rival, to allow West Bank residents to demonstrate en masse against Israel. Protests there in recent days saw only hundreds turn out.
Sinwar, who was convicted of masterminding a terror attack in Israel in the 1980s and later released, also claimed in the interview that Israel had scuppered prisoner-swap negotiations with Hamas.
Hamas is holding at least two mentally ill Israeli civilians and the bodies of two fallen IDF soldiers. In return for their release they are expected to demand the release of Hamas prisoners in Israeli jails.
He said that a deal was close to being clinched on prisoner exchange but that the Israeli government was not prepared to go through with it.
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No they should continue and face the consequences