Hamas abandons suicide bombings
A SENIOR Hamas figure says suicide bombings in Israel have been abandoned because they are “a tool which is not effective”.
Ahmed Yousef, a top adviser to Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh, told The Weekend Australian in his Gaza office that suicide bombings - which he called “martyrdom operations” - damaged Hamas internationally and gave Israel “leverage” against Palestinians.
Asked about Israel’s argument that the lifting of the blockade against Gaza could endanger its security, Mr Yousef said Hamas was prepared to agree to European Union monitors making security checks on all ships arriving in Gaza.
Israel reacted sceptically to Mr Yousef’s comments, saying terror plots were still being thwarted.
Spokesman Yigael Palmor said: “As far as we are concerned, the separation barrier and the good work of the Israeli and Palestinian Authority security services is the reason there have been no suicide bombings. The intent of Hamas is still there - their capacity has been neutralised.”
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Mr Yousef predicted the two Palestinian rivals - Hamas, which controls Gaza, and Fatah, in charge of the West Bank - were “within weeks” of signing a reconciliation agreement.
He conceded Hamas figures had broken the legs of Fatah rivals in recent years but said “nobody can claim to be clean 100 per cent”.
“The Israelis were here for 40 years, have a lot of collaborators here, there were people being shot and having legs broken but this was the norm,” he said.
Reconciliation between Hamas and Fatah would mean the US and Israel could negotiate with a single entity. The US is brokering indirect negotiations between Israel and the PA, but Hamas is not included, which means a deal would not involve Gaza.
Asked about Israel’s fear of suicide bombings, Mr Yousef said: “When was the last time there was a suicide bombing in Israel?”
Mr Palmor responded to the same question with: “Frankly, I don’t know.”
Mr Yousef said Hamas had moved into a non-violent phase, which included supporting efforts by ships to break the blockade of Gaza. “Our struggle originally was non-violent,” he said.
“When we failed to achieve results in the first intifada … people resorted to guns because the Israelis began intentionally targeting people.”
He said the image of “martyrdom operations” had damaged Hamas and Palestinians by helping the “Israeli propaganda machine”.
“We try now to engage with the world, to talk and be open-minded and to talk about our political vision. We are dealing with the non-violent approach again. Let people come and break the siege in boats and pressure Israel that way.”
On the question of whether Hamas would recognise Israel, he said: “We are prepared to accept a Palestinian state on 1967 borders with Jerusalem as the capital. We need to live as human beings and build a future for our children.”
If Israel ended its West Bank occupation, he would acknowledge the right of Israel to exist? “Nobody can expect somebody under occupation to recognise their occupiers. This is against international law.”