Tuesday, 15 Jun 2021

Israel warned ‘Hamas not going away’ as militant group claims victory in bloody Gaza war

Hamas 'does not speak for Palestinian people' says Tlaib

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Both sides have adopted victory narratives following the announcement of the ceasefire which ended the bloody 11-day war, which killed 243 Gazans, including 66 children, and 13 Israelis, including one soldier. Ismail Haniya, the political leader of Hamas, said the outcome of the truce was “a quantum leap in the history of the conflict with the enemy” and said resistance rather than negotiation is the “best strategic choice for liberation”.

The Israeli cabinet claimed the IDF had made “great achievements” in the war – some of them “unprecedented”.

But Mark Perry, a US foreign policy expert, said it is high time Israel woke up to the reality that pounding the Gaza Strip in response to rocket attacks from Hamas is not going to achieve peace.

The warning from the senior analyst at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, a Washington DC-based think tank that advocates military restraint, came hours before Israel’s fourth war with Hamas ended in a ceasefire.

Mr Perry told Express.co.uk: “This movement isn’t going away and Gaza remains under siege and [Hamas] have a wonderful ability to reconstitute, rebuild and recreate themselves.

“So Mr Netanyahu can tell his people, ‘well we’ve taught them a lesson’, but they’ve taught them a lesson before and the lesson has never taken hold.

“So I think perhaps for Israel to adopt a different strategy.

“Bombing Hamas is not going to eliminate them and it’s not going to make Israel any safer, it’s going to do just the opposite.

“There’s got to be a different kind of vision for how to end this conflict than the one we have.

“The one we have is a conflict that continues in the hopes that somehow people will learn their lesson – that’s never worked and it’s not going to work here.”

Mr Perry, who has visited the blockaded enclave of Gaza multiple times and met with senior Hamas officials, said after years of unrest and countless lives lost on both sides Israel and Hamas should both be willing to try to negotiate a peace settlement.

He added: “This is an assymetric conflict.

“How do you resolve it? Perhaps, Israel would do best by lifting the siege of Gaza and engaging in discussions with Hamas.

“They say they won’t engage in any kind of discussion with terrorist organisations but that didn’t stop Yithzak Rabin or Shimon Perez from talking to the PLO (Palestine Liberation Organisation) which they considered a terrorist organisation.

“I don’t think it’s out of the question that at some point, probably not soon, but at some point in the future there would be some kind of direct understanding that could be reached between the two parties.”

The militant group has been declared a terrorist organisation by the United States, United Kingdom and European Union.

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Mr Perry said from his meeting with Hamas officials he believes the group is capable of reaching a deal with their sworn enemy, and said they did not strike his as “irrational” in their demands.

While neither side has in the past not been willing to talk directly, a team of Egyptian mediators made the ceasefire discussions possible.

And he expressed scepticism over claims Iran is playing a major role in the day-to-day workings of the group, saying Hamas receives only “nominal” financial support from Tehran.

Mr Perry explained: “Hamas is a homegrown organisation. Israel would love for us to think that Hamas is an arm of the Iranian revolution. It’s absolute nonsense, there’s very little evidence that that’s the case.

“Hamas doesn’t receive its missiles from Iran, it doesn’t receive munitions from Iran. The rockets that Hamas is sending into Israel are created in metal workshops in the heart of Gaza.

“They’re a very tough political organisation. They’re cast as Islamic fanatics [but] they’re not. I know them well, they’re not Islamic fanatics.

“This isn’t ISIS, this isn’t Al-Qaeda. They’re practical, political straight-thinking leaders in the Palestinian national movement and they’re very tenacious. They’re not going away.”

Friends of Al-Aqsa, a London-based group advocating for the rights of Palestinians, backed Mr Perry’s Hamas and Israel to thrash out a peace pact.

Chairman Ismail Patel told Express.co.uk said any diplomatic solution to the reached by the Israelis and the Palestinians would have to include Hamas.

He said: “For the diplomatic negotiations to result in lasting peace, the Israeli leadership will have to negotiate with all the Palestinian political parties.

“In the current political map of Palestine, this will have to include Hamas and Fatah amongst other political groups.”

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