Hamas Working With Egypt to Prevent Armed Conflict With Israel, Gaza Leader Says

Speaking on Al Jazeera, Yahye Sinwar said the 'March of Return' protests did not achieve all goals set by Hamas, but it achieved the key goal of bringing the Palestinian agenda back into the public discourse

Yehiyeh Sinwar, Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip in his office in Gaza City, Thursday, May 10, 2018
Khalil Hamra/AP

Egypt and Hamas are acting to prevent an armed conflict with Israel, said Hamas leader in Gaza Yahye Sinwar on Wednesday, stressing this is a key issue on which Cairo and Hamas agree.

Speaking on Al Jazeera, Sinwar claimed that both Egypt and Hamas agreed the protests must not deteriorate into violent, military conflict. "It is imperative to keep the marches a peaceful, civil protest," Sinwar said, which is why Hamas is careful not to arm protesters, according to him. He stressed this stance was held by all Palestinian factions.

>> After Day of Relative Calm on Gaza Border, Hamas Reassesses Its Tactics | Analysis <<

Sinwar mentioned Hamas' political leader Ismail Haniyeh's recent visit to Cairo, during which Egypt reiterated its commitment to the Palestinian struggle and right of return, according to Sinwar. 

"The Egyptians have promised to open the Rafah Crossing to ease the blockade, but not as a cindition to stopping the marches - contrary to what was said in some media outlets," he said.

Referring to the "March of Return" protests, Sinwar said they did not achieve all goals set by Hamas, but they achieved the key goal of bringing the Palestinian agenda back into the public discourse.

"The Palestinian form of resistance changes according to need," Sinwar said. "Hamas has a right to use all forms of defiance, and is currently making the best use of the civil struggle," he said, adding this does not mean Hamas cannot return to the armed struggle.

"We are making sure it does not turn into armed struggle, but there is a limit, and in a scenario in which Israel ramps up its aggression and much blood is shed, it will demand a response from us," said Sinwar.

"The strategic situation around the Palestinian agenda today is very complex, mostly because the American administration fully adopted the Zionist stance," said Sinwar, also referring to the normalization of Israel at by several Arab nations, at the expense of Palestine.

Regarding claims made by Israeli politicians that Hamas is using children as human ammunition and political fodder, Sinwar said Israel "uses a lot of lies and false stories, but it is clear world leaders have rejected Israel's claims and have adopted Palestine's version," saying young Gazans prefer to go protest at the fence instead of fire rockets at Israel during the U.S. Embassy opening ceremony.

Sinwar also called upon the Fatah and PLO leadership to allow Palestinians from the West Bank to join the demonstrations. "Let the Palestinian people commence a non-violent civil struggle against the occupation in the West Bank," he said.