Israel Trying to Blackmail Us, Hamas Chief Says After Bennett's Gaza Warning

Jack Khoury
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Palestinian police officers stand next to a truck carrying clothes for export at Kerem Shalom crossing, early Sunday morning
Palestinian police officers stand next to a truck carrying clothes for export at Kerem Shalom crossing, early Sunday morning.Credit: Ibraheem Abu Mustafa/Reuters
Jack Khoury

Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Gaza Strip, announced on Monday that the meeting that he had held earlier in the day with United Nations envoy Tor Wennesland had ended in failure.

Sinwar, whose Islamist Hamas movement controls the Strip, said he would now consult with their military wing regarding Hamas' response to Israeli restrictions on the shipment of merchandise into the Strip.

Sinwar said a fundamental solution is required to the humanitarian problems in Gaza, but claimed that such a solution has not been found because Israel has been trying to extort Hamas. Pressure has to be exerted on Israel, the Hamas leader claimed, so that it recognizes the rights of the Palestinian people.

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Despite the Hamas leader's remarks, as of Monday, Israel is permitting a reduced quantity of agricultural exports to leave the Gaza Strip, marking the first time since last month's hostilities between Israel and Hamas that goods are being allowed to be exported. The move was announced by Israel's Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories on Sunday evening after a security assessment, and approved by the political leadership.

In his comments on Monday, Sinwar alleged that Israel had closed its border crossings with Gaza, prevented fuel deliveries to the power station in the coastal enclave, barred fishing off the Gaza coast and prevented the transfer of funds from abroad, including from Qatar. Israel is interested in "harming every Palestinian citizen," the Hamas leader said, and that Hamas must amp up pressure on Israel as a result.

As of the end of May, Israel has again permitted fishing off the Gaza coast after closing the fishing zone when the hostilities with Hamas broke out in the middle of the month. Israel has permitted the transfer of humanitarian supplies into Gaza, permitted patients to leave the Strip life-saving medical care in Israel and has opened the Erez border crossing to employees of international organizations and foreign journalists.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett warned Hamas that the Gaza Strip will have to get used to a new reality. Speaking at a memorial ceremony for Israeli soldiers killed during the 2014 war in Gaza, Bennett said that Gaza will “have to get used to a different Israeli approach – one of initiative, decisiveness and suspicion.”

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