TEL AVIV – Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yahya Sinwar, said on Wednesday that there was no finalized ceasefire agreement yet with Israel, and added that the terror group has the capability to launch hundreds of rockets as far as Tel Aviv if need be.
“Until now, there is no final text for a ceasefire. What is being circulated is proposals and ideas,” Sinwar told Palestinian journalists. “We decided to end the siege on our people, who have the right to live a dignified life.”
Sinwar warned that if the ceasefire negotiations failed again Hamas would fire hundreds of rockets towards Israel’s heartland.
“What the resistance launched in 51 days in the last war, it can launch in five minutes during any [future] Israel aggression,” he said, referring to the summer conflict of 2014.
“Hamas could set off rocket warning sirens in the Tel Aviv region for six months straight,” he said.
Hamas and Israel were said to have been engaged in Egyptian-brokered talks for a long-term ceasefire. Israel had reportedly agreed to a partial lift of the blockade.
According to Sinwar, discussions surrounding a prisoner exchange deal had nothing to do with the ceasefire agreement. Hamas has the bodies of two Israeli soldiers and two living civilians.
“We’ve submitted several proposals regarding the captive Israeli soldiers and there will be progress on that matter shortly, alongside the calm (to be achieved between Israel and Gaza). However, the two issues don’t depend on one another,” the Hamas leader said.
“In two months it will be possible to restore calm in the Gaza Strip — and Egypt has expressed its willingness to do so — even if an intra-Palestinian reconciliation is not reached,” he added.
He also said the terror group would not rule out a conflict with Israel, but at the same time was not actively seeking it.
“We do not seek a military confrontation, but at the same time we are not afraid of it.”
Israel has been hit with an onslaught of fires in recent months from incendiary kites and balloons flown over the Gaza border, destroying over 7,000 acres of land and causing millions of shekels in damages.
Sinwar also warned the Palestinian Authority against doing anything to thwart a ceasefire deal.
“Any punitive measures the PA imposes on the Gaza Strip will be in violation of the rules of the game. We respond to any such measures appropriately,” he said.
Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly slammed the Egypt-brokered moves, saying such a deal would only be reached “over my dead body.”
“If the agreement is signed without the PA’s permission, it is illegal and constitutes treason,” Abbas said in private conversations, according to Hussein al-Sheikh, a senior member of Abbas’s Fatah party.
“Over my dead body will there be a ceasefire and calm between both sides,” Abbas said, according to al-Sheikh.
Hamas responded in a statement directed at the PA.
“We aren’t moving toward a political agreement or a part of an international deal that gives up our lands, recognizes the occupier or destroys the national project, as you did,” Hamas said. “We didn’t recognize the Zionist entity and sanctify the security coordination, as you did at the expense of our people.”
Hamas spokesperson Abdel Latif al-Qanua said the PA comments were “worthless” and added they were “not fooling anybody — the people still supports the resistance and we will keep our hand on the trigger to defend the Palestinian people from the Zionist occupation.”