Hamas Chief in Gaza: 'There Is No Deal or Understandings' With Israel

Despite recent reports on progress in talks, Yahya Sinwar denies there is any breakthrough but says Hamas is reaching understanding with Egypt, Qatar and UN ■ 28-year-old Palestinian dies in Gaza-border protest

Hamas chief in Gaza Yahya Sinwar speaks to foreign correspondents, in his office in Gaza City, May 10, 2018.
Khalil Hamra / AP

Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said on Friday that the organization has not formed any deal with Israel or reached any agreements.

Anyone who says that "there is a deal or understandings with the occupation does not tell the truth," Sinwar said. 

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The Hamas leader spoke during a rally near the border with Israel, east of Gaza.

Sinwar added that while there was no emerging deal with Israel at the moment, Hamas is establishing "understandings" with Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations "in order to lift the blockade [on Gaza]." 

Sinwar also said that he could tell that the Israeli blockade on the Strip, which began 12 years ago, "is starting to disintegrate." 

The Hamas chief's statement contradicts recent reports on progress in Egyptian-mediated talks between Israel and the Palestinians. 

Last month, Sinwar made a different statement, telling the Italian daily la Repubblica in a first interview with a Western outlet that he saw a "historic opportunity for change."

Palestinians protesting at the Gaza border on October 9, 2018.
Eliyahu Hershkowitz

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Sinwar also called for a cease-fire after months of violent clashes on the border and numerous rocket attacks on Israel. 

While Sinwar spoke, protests along the border between Israel and the coastal enclave took place as they have every weekend for months.

A 28-year-old Palestinian, identified as Rami Khaman, succumbed to his wounds and was pronounced dead on Friday evening after being shot while protesting east of Rafah.

Thirty-six Palestinians were wounded by live Israeli fire during the protests, the Red Cresecent Movement reported Friday evening. 

Overall, 144 people were injured, 27 of whom were hit by rubber-tipped bullets. Forty people were evacuated to hospitals to receive medical care. 

On Thursday, according to Palestinian reports, a 20-year-old Palestinian man died after Israeli forces opened fire at four youths near the border fence. Red Crescent emergency responders took the wounded Palestinian to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

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The incident took place one day after the organizing committee for the March of Return in Gaza announced that the marches along the border fence with Israel will continue this weekend, despite the positive diplomatic developments and improved conditions in the Strip in recent days.

Also on Thursday, Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas reportedly agreed not to foil efforts to reach an agreement in the Gaza Strip following Egyptian pressure. 

Abbas' consent, which was reported by the Saudi-owned Al-Hayat newspaper, means that he will not impose new sanctions on the Strip.

Abbas was pressured to this position by Egypt's president, Abdel-Fattah al-Sissi, according to the Arabic daily, but stipulated that an agreement must later be reached that will restore Palestinian Authority control of the Strip.