Senior Hamas official: Rockets damage Palestinian interests
A senior Hamas official said yesterday that firing rockets at Israel ultimately does a disservice to Palestinian interests.
Ismail al-Ashkar is a member of the security committee in the Palestinian Legislative Council and a leading candidate for the interior minister position. “The firing of rockets at Israel is against the Palestinian interest. It benefits certain individuals and groups, but not the Palestinians themselves,” he said yesterday.
Since January 18, the Hamas armed wing, the Iz al-Din al-Qassam Brigades, has not taken credit for a single Qassam rocket. Sources in the Gaza Strip said just two weeks ago that Hamas detained Islamic Jihad operatives for trying to launch rockets.
Yesterday Hamas representatives met delegates from Islamic Jihad and smaller militant groups in order to ensure the cease-fire with Israel remains in force for now.
Also yesterday, senior Gaza-based Hamas officials Mahmoud Zahar and Khalil al-Haya left for Damascus to meet with the group’s political bureau leaders. From there they will head to Cairo for further talks on maintaining the lull in fighting with Israel.
Hamas officials said the cease-fire remained in effect because the group understands the Palestinian public is not interested in continuing the confrontation with Israel following the devastation visited upon Gaza in the December-January Israel Defense Forces offensive.
Hamas has been able to exert control on the smaller militant factions, which understand firing rockets could bring them into conflict with the ruling party.