Hamas to Announce Cease-Fire Decision

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CBNNews.com - GAZA STRIP - On Friday, the day the six-month temporary calm with Israel ends, Hamas plans to announce whether or not it will extend the truce.

The last week of the so-called cease-fire brought conflicting statements from Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip and in Damascus, along with statements by smaller Palestinian terror groups in the Strip.

Earlier this week, Damascus-based chief Khaled Mashaal announced that Hamas would not renew the cease-fire.

Some of the group's Gaza leadership went along with Mashaal, while others said they had yet to make a final decision.

According to Jerusalem Post Palestinian Affairs correspondent Khaled Abu Toameh, delaying the decision may be a ploy to pressure Egypt to open the Rafah border crossing.

"Hamas will eventually accept the truce with Israel, but they want to gain something in return," a Gaza City resident told Toameh.

"For now, they are being vague about their position with the hope that they could extract concessions from both Israel and Egypt," he said.

"As far as many Palestinians are concerned, Hamas did not get anything out of the cease-fire agreement," he said.

"People criticized Hamas for making a deal with Israel without ensuring that the border crossings would be reopened and travel restrictions would be lifted," he said.

Another analyst said that Damascus and Teheran do not want Hamas to renew the cease-fire in order to deny kudos to Egypt for negotiating another deal.

The same analyst believes Damascus and Teheran were responsible for torpedoing the Egyptian-sponsored unity conference, which was supposed to have been held in Cairo last month.

Tension between Mashaal and Gaza-based Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh is also growing, with both vying for the terror group's top stop.

"Mashaal can't tolerate the fact that other Hamas leaders are stealing the show," an unnamed source told the Post.

"Ismail Haniyeh, for example, is much more popular among the Palestinians in the Gaza Strip than Mashaal. Look at what happened this week when Haniyeh appeared before a crowd of more than 200,000 people. He was welcomed as the 'future president of Palestine.' Mashaal was hardly mentioned during the rally," he said.

Source: The Jerusalem Post

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