Hamas official: We benefit from the lull in the fighting

Hamas official says negotiations on ceasefire have resulted in several achievements.

Dalit Halevi,

Mahmoud al-Zahar
Mahmoud al-Zahar
Wissam Nassar/Flash 90

Mahmoud al-Zahar, a senior member of Hamas in Gaza, said on Tuesday that the negotiations in Cairo between Palestinian Arab representatives and Egyptian government representatives regarding the lifting of the siege on Gaza had resulted in achievements on certain issues.

In an interview with the Al-Khaleej Online website, Zahar said that the issues under discussion were related to the Palestinians' right to safe and unrestricted passage out of Gaza and not through the Israeli crossings.

"The Rafah crossing has been open on the Egyptian side for a number of weeks and that has worked well, and our efforts are now focused on another permanent matter, which is the connection of Gaza to a general maritime route, and it is clear that it will reach the Turkish island of Cyprus in the Mediterranean Sea, under the supervision of entities that are fully accepted by all sides," said Zahar, adding, "The maritime line will be a civilian line for transporting goods and people."

"We are benefiting from the lull [in the fighting], because our weapons are in our hands, and there are no conditions that would harm Hamas' right to fight. The truce has no political price (which Hamas is required to pay) and does not exist within the framework of the ‘Deal of the Century’, but rather is solely a humanitarian step for the people of Gaza,” he continued.

The comments came as Egypt-mediated talks continue on a long-term ceasefire between Hamas and Israel.

Senior Hamas officials recently claimed that negotiations have made significant progress, and that a ceasefire is expected to be reached next week, following the Eid al-Adha holiday.

Despite the progress with the negotiations, tensions remain high in the region following an upsurge in Hamas attacks on Israeli targets including the killing of an IDF soldier on the Gaza border by a Hamas sniper, and a wave of rocket and mortar attacks on Israeli towns and army positions in the Gaza border area.

Earlier on Tuesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh touted the expected signing of a ceasefire agreement with Israel as a triumph for the terror group, telling Gazans that Israeli security restrictions on the coastal enclave would soon be lifted.

“We are on track to the removal of the unjust siege on the Gaza Strip,” Haniyeh said. “This is the result of our struggle and our steadfastness.”

Haniyeh also claimed that future aid to Gaza would not be conditioned on any changes to Hamas’ behavior or its policies in Gaza.