Hamas: We'll Demilitarize if Israel Does
Hamas is not willing to discuss the possibility of demilitarizing weapons from its "military wing," the Al-Qassam Brigades, or other Palestinian terrorist organizations operating in the Gaza, one of its leaders announced Friday.
In his first Friday sermon after the war, Ismail Haniyeh, the deputy head of Hamas's political bureau, said that Hamas does not intend to cooperate with any regional or international decision which would see its arsenal 'against the resistance' harmed.
"Weapons are the holy light of the sanctity of the struggle and the land issue, and if they want to demilitarize its weapons, we will only agree if the occupier is also demilitarized and its leaves our land," Haniyeh said, likely referring to the entire state of Israel.
"As long as there is an occupation, there will be a struggle," he added.
Haniyeh also vehemently denied claims that one condition of Israel's ceasefire with Gaza forged last month was demilitarization, saying that the Al-Qassam Brigades' "military victory" will be "taught in military academies." Just last week, Haniyeh, similarly, made the "victory" sign in highly publicized photos while standing on his ruined home in Gaza.
Commenting on his proposed agenda at this stage, Haniyeh said that the focus will be on assisting the Palestinian people, rehabilitation, lifting blockades once and for all, and strengthening Palestinian unity.
He called on the Palestinian Authority (PA) Chairman, Mahmoud Abbas to join the Rome agreement to enable the Palestinian people to prosecute the "leaders of the occupation" for war crimes, mentioning that the Palestinian organizations signed a document that supports it.
The call surfaces less than one day after rights group Shurat HaDin announced that it had filed its own indictment for war crimes against Hamas leader Khaled Meshaal in the International Criminal Court (ICC), in response to the summary execution of 38 Palestinians in Gaza during the final days of Operation Protective Edge.
Legal experts have noted that an indictment is likely to be filed against Hamas's leaders-in-exile over their conduct during the war as well, as they have facilitated, over and over again, the use of Gaza's civilians as human shields during the fifty-day long conflict, and then padded the "civilian" death count to include known terrorists killed in targeted airstrikes.