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Saturday, January 29, 2022

Hamas says won’t touch ‘single cent’ of aid to rebuild Gaza


Qatar was a key mediator in ending the 11-day Israeli bombardment of the illegally besieged Gaza Strip.

Hamas’ Gaza Strip leader, Yahya Sinwar, vowed the Palestinian resistance group would not touch a single cent of international aid sent for reconstruction purposes to the besieged Gaza Strip.

“We welcome any international or Arab effort to rebuild the Gaza Strip,” Sinwar said.

“I affirm our commitment not to take a single cent intended for reconstruction and humanitarian efforts,” he said. “We have never taken a cent in the past.”

The comments, made in a live press conference with foreign media, came as Qatar’s Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani pledged $500 million to help rebuild the besieged Strip after an 11-day Israeli offensive that destroyed much of the enclave’s infrastructure.

Sinwar also said Hamas had plans to finish off its last round of attacks by firing 300 missiles at Israel but stopped to respect Qatari mediators that intervened with the announced ceasefire.

Speaking to foreign media, Sinwar warned Israel against imposing more harm, describing the recent escalation as a “drill for what will come if Israel violates the Al-Aqsa Mosque”.

The city of Jerusalem is a “red line”, and “Israel’s demise is linked to its plans for the city,” he said.

The latest flare-up saw Hamas attempt to deliver a message to its enemy and the wider world that it was about time to “stop playing with the fire”.

“We started firing rockets at Jerusalem first to teach the occupation that Al-Aqsa has men that protect it,” he added, noting the group has capabilities to launch hundreds of rockets (towards Israel) per minute, with a range of 200km. 

In an interview with the Associated Press, Sinwar said Israel failed to strike at Hamas’ political, military and security leadership ranks and confirmed the group’s control rooms had been left unscathed. 

“Israel tried to assassinate 500 elite fighters under the ruse of a ground invasion, but it failed,” the Hamas leader said in a statement, noting the group’s military infrastructure was only slightly damaged.

Gaza holds more than 500km of tunnels and the damage done to these networks does not exceed 20%, he said on the live stream.

Casualties among Hamas ranks in the latest Israeli offensive on the besieged enclave numbered at 57 fighters from Al-Qassam and 22 others from Al-Quds Brigade .

Qatar’s role in ending Hamas-Israel attacks

Qatar played a pivotal role to end days-long Israeli aggression on the Palestinian people while also providing aid to victims in Gaza. 

The truce agreement, brokered as a result of efforts by Qatar and Egypt, has been praised by leaders around the world for ending days of brutal violence.

On Thursday, US Secretary of State Antony Blinken spoke to Qatari Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Foreign Affairs Sheikh Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al-Thani to thank Doha for its efforts.

“The secretary thanked the Foreign Minister for Qatar’s assistance in helping to secure the ceasefire between Israel, Hamas, and other parties in Gaza,” a statement said.

“Secretary Blinken underscored the importance of bringing together international support for humanitarian and development efforts in Gaza.  The Secretary also thanked the Foreign Minister for Qatar’s role in advancing peace and security in the region, including Qatar’s support for Afghanistan peace negotiations,” it added.

Read also: UN, EU thank Qatar for facilitating ceasefire in Gaza Strip

On Sunday, the Head of the Political Bureau of Hamas Ismail Haniyeh thanked Sheikh Tamim for Doha’s substantial diplomatic efforts that played a role in reaching the truce after days of brutal violence that killed hundreds of Palestinian civilians including more than 60 children.

The Qatari Amir extended his continued support to Palestinians and stressed the importance of Palestinian unity to obtain legitimate national rights, among which is the establishment of an independent state.

“I commend Egypt and Qatar for the efforts carried out, in close coordination with the UN, to help restore calm to Gaza and Israel”, said Secretary-General António Guterres in a statement to reporters at United Nations [UN] Headquarters in New York, calling on all sides to observe the ceasefire.

Since May 10, Israeli airstrikes and missile attacks have destroyed several schools, homes, healthcare facilities, buildings that housed media offices in Gaza and many more. 

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