TEL AVIV – Gaza-based terror group Hamas reportedly said on Sunday that it neither wants nor expects another round of conflict with Israel despite recent tension over the energy crisis in the coastal enclave.
“We in Hamas do not initiate wars and we do not expect one, this is our political assessment,” Khalil al-Hayya, Hamas’s deputy leader, told reporters in Gaza.
“We do not expect war because we are not interested and ‘the occupation’ also say they are not interested,” he said, referring to Israel.
Hayya added that the Islamist group was strengthening its ties with Egypt and working together with the country to secure its borders.
“Securing borders is a joint interest. We are keen and we have the determination and the ability to prevent any harm to reach out for Egypt from Gaza,” he added.
Egypt has kept its distance from Hamas over the terror group’s support for the Muslim Brotherhood and the fear that it will aid Islamists in the Sinai Peninsula.
Hayya’s remarks contradict those made last week by Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanua, who said: “The decision of the occupation to reduce the electricity to Gaza at the request of PA President Mahmoud Abbas is catastrophic and dangerous. It will accelerate the deterioration and explode the situation in the Strip.”
The Israeli government’s decision to heed Abbas’ request means the allotted time Gaza receives electricity on a daily basis – currently around 4 hours – will be reduced by approximately 45 minutes.
During last week’s cabinet meeting, top military officials, including IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, warned that the power cut could lead to an escalation in violence while welcoming the pressure on Hamas, according to a Haaretz report that cited a member of the security cabinet.
Hayya’s claim that “Hamas does not initiate war” contradicts the fact that all of the last few rounds of conflict began as the result of rockets being indiscriminately fired from Gaza at Israel’s civilian population.
Last week, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman said he agreed with the assessment that 2005’s withdrawal from Gaza was a “grave mistake.”
“It was an adventure and a mistake for which we’re still paying a high price,” Lieberman said in a radio interview Thursday.
“The idea behind the disengagement, that the Arabs would all of a sudden want peace and would be our subcontractors on security, collapsed,” he added.