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Hamas denies Qatari initiative including departure of its leaders from Gaza

January 11, 2024 at 11:33 am

Hamas Political Bureau Member Osama Hamdan speaks during an exclusive interview in Beirut, Lebanon on December 28, 2023 [Idiris Okuduci/Anadolu via Getty Images]

The Palestinian Islamic Resistance Movement has denied that a Qatari initiative will include the departure of Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip. This was confirmed by senior Hamas official Osama Hamdan during a press conference in the Lebanese capital, Beirut, on Wednesday.

According to Israel’s Channel 13, “A new proposal has been delivered to Israel from Qatar, to release all the captured individuals [Israeli hostages in Gaza] in several stages, most of which will come near the end of the deal and after the Israeli army withdraws from the Strip.” The channel added that the proposal includes the departure of Hamas leaders from the Gaza Strip, although this has not been confirmed officially by either Israel or Qatar.

“There is no initiative of this nature,” insisted Hamdan. “The people did not leave their land, so how will the resistance that defends the people do so? Talk about the resistance leaving the land is a delusion, as is the idea of disarming the resistance, which is naive and does not reflect an understanding of the facts of the matter.”

He described the talk by the Israeli media about this initiative as “a deception and misinformation” to calm angry Israeli citizens, “especially the families of the hostages who are watching the being killed at the hands of the occupation forces without [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu caring about them.”

Hamdan reiterated his movement’s assertion that it will not accept any prisoner exchange initiative unless it is based on a complete end to Israel’s “aggression” against the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip.

“So far, there is no talk about any initiatives,” he added. “We are committed to our position and presented a clear vision to the mediators, and this vision is the basis for any ideas or initiatives in this context.”

Channel 13 said that the Qatari proposal will be presented to the Israeli War Cabinet and the Political and Security Ministerial Council, which will meet tonight to discuss the “day after” the war ends in Gaza.

Qatar’s Foreign Minister Mohammed Bin Abdul Rahman Al-Thani said on Sunday that the ceasefire negotiations in Gaza “are ongoing and are going through challenges… and the killing of a senior leader of the Palestinian Hamas movement [Saleh Al-Arouri] could affect them.”

He pointed out that discussion “with all parties” are ongoing. “We are trying to reach an agreement as soon as possible that leads to a ceasefire in Gaza, an increase in aid and the release of hostages and [Palestinian] prisoners.”

Egypt and Qatar, along with the US, are sponsoring efforts to reach a second temporary truce in the Gaza Strip.

Hamas launched Operation Al-Aqsa Flood on 7 October against Israeli military bases and settlements in the vicinity of Gaza, during which 1,139 Israeli soldiers and civilians were killed, many of them by the Israel Defence Forces, it has since been revealed. The operation was in response to “daily Israeli attacks against the Palestinian people and their sanctities,” said Hamas, notably Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem. Around 240 Israelis were captured during the operation, 110 of whom have already been exchanged for some of the thousands of Palestinians held by Israel.

Almost 23,500 Palestinians have been killed in Israeli air and artillery strikes since 7 October, most of them children and women. Just under 60,000 have been wounded. Israeli bombs have laid much of the occupied Palestinian territory to waste. Thousands more Palestinians are buried under the rubble of their homes and other civilian infrastructure, including hospitals, schools and places of worship. Nearly all of the enclave’s 2.3 million people have been driven from their homes, many several times, and they are engulfed by a humanitarian catastrophe with acute shortages of food, water and medical supplies.

READ: Israel army demolishes thousands of Palestinian homes in Gaza: Report