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Hamas: Israel is stalling ceasefire, hostage exchange truce

Hamas: Israel is stalling ceasefire and hostage exchange agreement
3 min read
22 February, 2024
Mohammed Nazzal, a senior Hamas official, said Israel is blocking a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal by refusing to meet essential demands.
Israel's assault on the Gaza Strip has destroyed over 70 percent of residential homes in the besieged enclave [Getty]

A senior Hamas official has said Israel is obstructing a ceasefire and hostage exchange deal by refusing to meet key demands made by the Palestinian movement, such as the release of Palestinian prisoners and an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. 

Mohammed Nazzal, a senior member of Hamas' political bureau, spoke to Al-Araby Al-Jadeed, The New Arab's Arabic-language sister edition, and rejected the claim that freeing the hostages is the main barrier to a truce in Gaza. 

He said this is the main "trump card" held by the Palestinian factions in a bid to pressure Israel to end its assault on Gaza, which has so far killed over 29,000 people.

He pointed out that Israel wants all its hostages freed but is refusing to release the Palestinian detainees it holds, along with other demands by Hamas such as a permanent ceasefire and military withdrawal from Gaza, all of which would see the Israelis being freed. 

"The obstacles are being put down by the occupation, not Hamas, as the occupation doesn't wish to commit… to a ceasefire. Nor does it want to withdraw its forces from Gaza, nor does it want to lift the blockade from Gaza," he explained.    

"After almost 140 days, the only thing the occupation has achieved is destruction and genocide. However, it hasn't achieved any of its declared goals," stated Nazzal, asserting that this showed a "military defeat" for Israel. 

Nazzal said Hamas launched its 7 October attack in southern Israel, which followed months of deadly Israeli raids in the occupied West Bank, in secret due to necessity but contacted other factions shortly after. Negotiations with Israel would not be possible as a collective, he added, but said Hamas is acting on behalf of "resistance factions".

"We agree with them on the general plans, and we update them continuously on the developments," he said. 

He also stressed that the Palestinian Authority and Fatah had distanced themselves from the 7 October events, despite talk of a unity government with Fatah politician Mohammad Mustafa as a possible candidate for president.

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"Our priority is halting the aggression against the Palestinian people, and the withdrawal of the occupation forces from the Gaza Strip," said Nazzal.

"After that, there can be talk on putting the Palestinian internal house in order, which the Palestinian government will be a part of it."

Nazzal dismissed reports that Gaza's Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar regretted the 7 October attacks, which saw 1,200 Israelis killed according to Israeli numbers, and rumours that the Hamas leadership is looking to replace him. 

"Here is the logical question: if the occupation forces have been incapable of reaching Sinwar, how have they communicated with him, to know he is regretful?" he said.

"The one responsible for this rumour is a liar, and may have let himself become part of the media machine which is waging a psychological war against the resistance in general, and Hamas in particular."  


This article is based on an article which appeared in our Arabic edition by Mahmoud Khalil on 22 February 2024. To read the original article click here.