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Israel's Gaza attacks aim to destroy reconciliation, Hamas says

Hamas accuses Israel of attempting thwart any efforts at reconciliation between the Palestinian factions by attacking the Gaza Strip

Ahram Online , Monday 4 Jun 2012
Netanyahu
Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (C) arrives for the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem June 3, 2012. (Photo: Reuters)
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The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) said on Monday that the last three-day Israeli attack on the Gaza Strip signified an effort to thwart any reconciliation deal amongst Palestinian factions.

The Israeli Air Force (IAF) carried out air strikes on different parts of Gaza since Friday, injuring four children and injuring dozens in addition to significant damage to private property.

The Hamas leader Ismail Radwan pointed out that reaching common ground among all Palestinian factions is the best strategy to manage the conflict with Israel. "The Palestinians have the right to respond to escalation by the Israeli occupying forces," Radwan said. He also described the assaults by Israeli troops as "barbaric bombings of civilians" and said that the occupying forces bear full responsibility for the damage that have wrought in Palestinian homes across the Gaza Strip.

Meanwhile, the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) stated that Israel intends its armed escalation against Gaza as a political means to take international attention away from its settlement activities and humanitarian crimes in the West Bank amid considerable developments in the reconciliation process.

Talal Abu Zarifa, a member of the movement's political bureau, called on the newly formed Israeli parliamentary coalition to adopt a ceasefire. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz announced their decision to go into government together early last month, asserting it would restore stability to Israel's coalition and avoid the need for an early vote.

The agreement, which is set to be voted on by the Knesset on Wednesday, will put Netanyahu at the helm of a ruling coalition with an overwhelming 94 votes in the 120-seat parliament.

"Palestinian tolerance cannot last as long as incessant Israeli strikes are in place; our silence is not based on weakness, but rather on willingness to avoid new wars amidst regional and international complications", Abu Zarifa said.

Most of the Palestinian factions within the PLO emphasised the necessity of forming a united resistance front underwritten by an ideological consensus in order to end internal divisions and catalyse the realisation of the reconciliation deal. 

Netanyahu has vowed to continue targeting militants for "as long as necessary" and several hours later, Israeli warplanes carried out at least eight strikes across the territory, targeting a weapons storage facility and five rocket-launching sites across Gaza. 

Overnight Monday, the Israeli military carried out further air strikes on Gaza and injured one Palestinian, after a rocket was fired at southern Israel, the army and Palestinian medical sources said.

Palestinian medics said it was not clear how many serious injuries were. A day earlier, Israeli air strikes across Gaza injured seven people after a flare-up along the border on Friday in which an Israeli soldier and two Palestinian militants were killed.

The Reconciliation Deal

In May 2011, Fatah and Hamas, the two main blocs of Palestinian politics, signed a surprise Egyptian-brokered reconciliation deal that came after 18 months of failed talks and envisioned the formation of an interim government of independents. The deal aimed at preparing the way for presidential and legislative elections within a year.

It largely maintains the status quo, leaving Hamas in control of the Gaza Strip and the Fatah-dominated Palestinian Authority ruling the West Bank.

Additionally, it does not affect the mechanisms for negotiations with Israel, though peace talks have been on hold for months and look unlikely to resume in the near future.

The deal was signed by a number of Palestinian factions, including Islamic Jihad, the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), the DFLP and the Palestinian People's Party.

A ceremony to mark the signing was attended by Hamas chief Khaled Meshaal and Palestinian president Mahmud Abbas. It was also attended by ex-Egyptian foreign minister Nabil al-Arabi, Egyptian intelligence chief general Murad Muwafi and former general secretary of the Arab League Amr Moussa.

Among the first tasks to be tackled is the establishment of a higher security council tasked with examining ways to integrate Hamas and Fatah's rival security forces and creating a "professional" security service. Yet, it contines to be a source of disagreement.

In February 2012, Abbas and Meshaal had agreed during talks in Qatar that the Palestinian president would head a transitional government of independents tasked with organising elections, in line with the terms of the deal.

Abbas last met with Meshaal at the end of April 2007, just six weeks before Hamas took over the Gaza Strip, forcibly ousting Fatah after a bloody confrontation that dramatically worsened the bitter split between the two movements.

The agreement called for the creation of an interim cabinet of independents selected by the two factions, which would prepare for elections that were scheduled to happen by May 2012.

Israel has fiercely criticised the unity deal, with Netanyahu even warning Abbas he "must choose between peace with Israel or peace with Hamas."

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