GAZA: Hamas, ruler of the Gaza Strip, warned that the Israeli blockade on the Palestinian enclave, if continued, will lead to a renewal of tension in the region.
“Israeli restrictions on the crossings and the delay in the entry of goods, reconstruction, and in allowing the Qatari grant will increase the tension that already exists in Gaza,” said Hamas spokesman Abdulatif al-Qanoua.
On May 21, Egypt brokered a cease-fire between Israel and militant groups led by Hamas in the Gaza Strip, ending 11 days of their fighting that killed more than 250 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.
“All options are open to breaking the siege, and the occupier (Israel) must respond to the demands of the Palestinian people,” al-Qanoua said, adding the Palestinians have the right to use all means and tools to resist the occupation.
Al-Qanoua also called on the mediators to increase their pressure on Israel to lift restrictions imposed on Gaza.
Meanwhile, he said Hamas refuses to link reconstruction in the Gaza Strip with a prisoners’ exchange deal with Israel.
“Hamas is ready to go through two separate tracks. The first is to stabilize the cease-fire, and the second is to reach a prisoners’ exchange deal with Israel,” al-Qanoua explained.
Hamas is ready to hold “indirect” negotiations with Israel to finalize a prisoners’ exchange deal, but “until now there is nothing new on this issue,” he said.
In 2017, Hamas’ armed wing al-Qassam Brigades announced that it was holding in captivity four Israeli soldiers, without clarifying whether they were dead or alive.