“Hamas Threatens to Halt Ceasefire Talks if Israel Resumes Attacks on Rafah”

Senior Hamas Leader Warns Against Israeli Assaults; Cites Significant Damage to Israeli Forces, Ongoing Resistance, and Openness to Chinese Mediation Efforts

박종국 승인 2024.05.21 11:39 의견 0
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SEOUL, Jong Kuk Park (Newsimpact) - Hamas has issued a stark warning, stating that it will cease ceasefire negotiations if Israel recommences its attacks on the Palestinian region of Rafah. This declaration puts the mediation efforts of the United States, Egypt, and other international actors to the test.

In an interview with Al Manar, a media outlet affiliated with Hezbollah, senior Hamas leader Osama Hamdan asserted that any Israeli assault on Rafah would prompt an immediate halt in negotiations. Hamdan claimed that Hamas had inflicted significant damage on Israeli ground forces during the ongoing clashes in Gaza, despite Israeli expectations that Hamas' combat effectiveness would wane due to ammunition shortages. He emphasized that Hamas fighters were well-prepared and confident in their operational capabilities.

Hamdan also revealed ongoing communication with key Hamas figures, including military leader Muhammad Deif and political leader Yahya Sinwar. Deif, a central figure in Hamas since the mid-1990s, is widely believed to have orchestrated the massacre of Israeli civilians on October 7 last year and is Israel's most wanted target. Sinwar, who began his Hamas activities in 1987, was imprisoned by Israel for 22 years before being released in a 2011 prisoner swap.

Further asserting Hamas' resilience, Hamdan claimed that the group continues to resist Israeli forces in Gaza through coordinated military operations and ongoing collaboration with Iran. He refuted the notion that Gaza is under Israeli occupation, describing the situation as a dynamic resistance rather than a static occupation.

Hamdan also expressed openness to China's recent peace mediation efforts, stating that Hamas was ready to consider any proposals put forward by China. However, he criticized Israel for using attacks on Rafah as a means of intimidation.
On April 30, the Chinese Foreign Ministry announced plans to facilitate negotiations between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority's ruling party, Fatah, in Beijing, as a preliminary step towards broader ceasefire talks.

Since January, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken has been leading efforts to mediate a ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, engaging with officials from Qatar, Egypt, and other countries to coordinate negotiations.

Hamdan mentioned that the Hamas negotiating team has returned to Cairo to continue discussions on the ceasefire.

Meanwhile, Egyptian media reported that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has presented Hamas with conditions for a ceasefire through Egyptian intermediaries. Israel's initial proposal involves exchanging 20 to 33 hostages, including children and elderly individuals, for captured Hamas militants.

Last October, Hamas kidnapped approximately 253 Israeli civilians, half of whom have been released. According to Israeli sources, 129 hostages are still being held in Gaza.

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