Hamas is refusing to cede control of its weapons and is threatening to infringe on Fatah territory. Is more violence on the horizon?
The Palestinian Hamas terror group has vowed to expand its terror activities to the Judea and Samaria region, despite demands by the rival Fatah movement that it disarm as part of a reconciliation agreement.
A senior Hamas official, Khalil al-Hayya, stated the group’s arsenal “can’t be divided or talked about in any dialogue.”
His remarks on Monday highlight the stark antagonism between Hamas and Palestinian Authority (PA) head Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah as the rivals negotiate steps for reconciliation.
Fatah, which holds sway in parts of Judea and Samaria, wants Hamas’s rockets, explosives and attack tunnels in Gaza neutralized. While Hamas is refusing to disarm, Fatah maintains that “the Palestinian weaponry must be one.”
In 2007, Hamas violently wrested control of Gaza from the PA after winning legislative elections a year earlier. It has wielded absolute power in Gaza since, driving humanitarian conditions to near-total collapse.
Last month, Fatah and Hamas signed a reconciliation deal under which Hamas began ceding control to Abbas, but differences remain.
More Violence on the Horizon
Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov warned the UN Security Council (UNSC) last week of the consequences, including a likely conflict, if the Hamas-Fatah agreement fails.
“Whether it would be triggered by a meltdown of law and order in Gaza, by the reckless action of extremists or by strategic choice, the result will be the same — devastation and suffering for all,” Mladenov said. “This cycle must be avoided at all costs.”
He said Palestinian leaders, Israel and the international community “have an important responsibility to advance the peace efforts.”
Some analysts say that the weapons control issue will ultimately cause the failure of the reconciliation and lead to more violence.
Earlier this month, Hazem Atallah, the Palestinian national police commander, cast doubt on whether the reconciliation agreement can be carried out, warning that his forces cannot guarantee law and order unless Hamas disarms in Gaza.
With his comments, Atallah acknowledged that this issue is nowhere near resolution.
“It is impossible. How can I do security when there are all these rockets and guns? Is this possible? It doesn’t work,” Atallah stated.
Several attempts have been made in the past to reconcile between Hamas and Fatah since Hamas violently took control of Gaza in 2007. So far, all attempts have failed.
By: AP and United with Israel Staff