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Israel's insistence on Rafah operation forces negotiations into unknown fate: Hamas leader

Ismail Haniyeh, the leader of Hamas's political bureau, cautioned on Wednesday that Israel's ongoing military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah jeopardizes negotiations concerning the release of hostages and the establishment of a cease-fire, casting uncertainty over their outcome.

Anadolu Agency MIDDLE EAST
Published May 16,2024

The head of Hamas's political bureau, Ismail Haniyeh, warned on Wednesday evening that Israel's insistence on continuing its military operation in the southern Gaza city of Rafah puts negotiations regarding the hostage release and the cease-fire in an "unknown fate."

In a televised speech on the occasion of the 76th anniversary of the Palestinian "Nakba," Haniyeh stated that Hamas "positively engaged with the efforts of mediators in Egypt and Qatar to reach an agreement to stop the fighting in Gaza and hostage swap" with Israel.

He added that "the occupation responded to our acceptance of the cease-fire proposal (presented by Egypt and Qatar) by entering Rafah city and northern areas" in the Gaza Strip.

Haniyeh continued that "the occupation's modifications to this proposal have put negotiations at an impasse."

He also considered that "Israel's insistence on proceeding with the Rafah operation puts negotiations in an unknown fate."

Haniyeh said in this regard: "We agree with our brothers in Egypt on the necessity of the enemy's immediate withdrawal from the Rafah crossing and all areas of the strip," emphasizing that "Israel has no right" to interfere in the management of the crossing.


Regarding Israel and the U.S.' scenarios about what they call "the day after the end of the war on Gaza," Haniyeh affirmed that this day "will be according to the interests of the Palestinian people."

He added that "the day after the war will be decided by Hamas in coordination with the rest of the Palestinian factions."

Haniyeh criticized the U.S. position on the war on Gaza, saying that the United States "continues its bias towards the enemy and continues to provide political support and cover for the genocide war it is waging against our people."

In response to Israel's threat to eliminate Hamas, Haniyeh affirmed that "Hamas and its armed wing, the Al-Qassam Brigades, exist to remain."


Regarding the anniversary of the "Nakba," Haniyeh pointed out in his speech that "the anniversary comes this year as our people are facing the battle of Al-Aqsa Flood, which is a prelude to liberation and independence."

He emphasized that the Palestinian issue "remains strong in the consciousness of our people, our nation, and the free people of the world," and that "generations of Palestinians realize that there is no turning back from the right of return."

Haniyeh stated in his speech: "Our people have thwarted all the malicious conspiracies and plans aimed at ending the Palestinian issue and have remained steadfast everywhere."

Haniyeh expressed his confidence that "the Zionist enemy will collapse and be defeated (in Gaza) no matter how long it takes."

He added that the people of the West Bank and Jerusalem "have stood firm and resisted all attempts at Judaization and the liquidation of the Palestinian issue."

In his speech, Haniyeh also called on "the free Palestinian people to move in all arenas and escalate the confrontation to end the brutal aggression."


Regarding the situation of prisoners in Israeli jails, Haniyeh said that "the occupation is committing all kinds of atrocities and executions against our people in secret detention centers and prisons."

He added: "We work to expose the crimes of the occupation against Palestinian prisoners in its jails."

He continued: "I say to our prisoners that the Al-Aqsa Flood will achieve your freedom, God willing."

Haniyeh also praised the support of "the resistance fronts" in Lebanon, Yemen, Iraq, and Iran for Gaza.

He also addressed the global student movement in solidarity with Gaza.

He considered that "the movement of world students in support of the Palestinian cause is an unprecedented scene in history."

He said: "Gaza has become an icon for the youth of the world and has shattered the Zionist narrative and revealed the bloody nature of the occupation."

Since Oct. 7, 2023 after a Hamas attack killed nearly 1,200 Israeli citizens, Israel has launched a deadly offensive on the Gaza Strip, where it claims Hamas fighters are hiding.

Gaza's Health Ministry said earlier Wednesday that the death toll has hit 35,233 with nearly 80,000 people injured.

Seven months into the Israeli war, vast swathes of Gaza lay in ruins, pushing 85% of the enclave's population into internal displacement amid a crippling blockade of food, clean water and medicine, according to the UN.

Israel is accused of genocide at the International Court of Justice. An interim ruling in January said it is "plausible" that Tel Aviv is committing what has been referred to as the "crime of crimes" in Gaza, ordering it to stop such acts and take measures to guarantee that humanitarian assistance is provided to civilians in Gaza.

But Israel has continued its offensive, and aid deliveries remain far short of pre-war levels. Even then, the coastal territory was heavily reliant on external assistance due to Israel's 17-year blockade.