Hamas leader declares Gaza-based group ‘no longer rules’ the Strip

t is imperative to end split in every situation” due to damage that divisions between factions have caused

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar announced on Wednesday that his Gaza-based organization would no longer rule or manage the coastal enclave, describing this as a “strategic” and “permanent” move, according toWalla news site.

“This decision is a strategic one and there is no going back. Hamas will be completely out of the picture,” the Hamas leader said at a meeting with civil defense institutions in the Gaza Strip.

Another Hamas leader meeting added that “it is imperative to end the split in every situation” due to the damage that divisions between Gaza-based Hamas and the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority (PA) have had on the resistance effort. “[It] harmed all of us as a people and as a liberation movement, we must end the division at any price.”

Palestinian reconciliation efforts have been underway since October this year with the aim of ending the 10-year long feud between the rival factions as well go some way to resolving the deteriorating humanitarian conditions in the area.

A deadline for a power transfer from Islamist movement Hamas to the PA was due to take place on December 1. However, pertaining to a set of “obstacles”, the time frame was extended 10 days. Sharp disagreements been Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Hamas’ Sinwar have been related to the fate of public employees in the Strip as well as issues around security and disarmament.

Ismail haniya and yahya sinwar

Hamas leader Ismail Haniya (L) and Hamas’s leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar wave during a rally marking the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Islamist movement, in Gaza City, on December 14, 2017 MOHAMMED ABED (AFP)

Reconciliation attempts have since been stalled further following US President Donald Trump’s widely-contested decision to recognize the coveted holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Attention was diverted to waging an “uprising” against the announcement, which witnessed Palestinians in both the West Bank and the Gaza Strip take to the streets in a string of ‘day of rage’ protests.

In a bid to redirect attention to the landmark rapprochement agreement, Sinwar stated that Trump’s Jerusalem declaration was an opportunity to accelerate Palestinian reconciliation.

“Trump’s actions on Jerusalem require rapid steps to reconcile and end this tragic chapter in the history of the people,” Sinwar stated. “This declaration is a real opportunity to overcome the obstacles on the way to reconciliation.”

Whilst there has been an uptick in rocket attacks fired from the Gaza Strip into Israel in recent weeks, Salafi groups have claimed responsibility for the attacks. According to aHaaretzreport, Hamas seeking to avoid a wider escalation in violence with Israel, embarked on an arrest of Salafi militants in an effort to halt the fire.

Despite the international outpouring of grievances Trump’s decision has caused as well as the barrage of diplomatic backlash, the US President insists that “there is a very good opportunity for peace to be achieved.” Palestinians argue oppositely that the US has lost its longstanding role as an impartial mediator. Many await to see what impact reconciliation between the Palestinian factions will have on the peace process.

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