Hamas denies it was under pressure from Egypt to curb Gaza protests

Bill Arnold

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh visited Egypt on Sunday, and was warned by Egypt about likely bloodshed if protests were held, Israel claimed.

He was asked why Hamas and Mahmoud Abbas's Fatah party, which dominates the Palestinian Authority, could not agree on a united platform since "Hamas is employing the same peaceful resistance that has been advocated by Fatah since day one and for many years". "Maybe later, when the calm at the border lasts, there will be some gestures to Hamas and Gaza's population, but the message that was given was tough and placed the responsibility for restoring order on Hamas [alone]".

"The Egyptians have promised to open the Rafah Crossing to ease the blockade, but not as a cindition to stopping the marches - contrary to what was said in some media outlets", he said. "Hamas has a right to use all forms of defiance, and is now making the best use of the civil struggle", he said, adding this does not mean Hamas can not return to the armed struggle.

"This is not peaceful resistance". Has the option (of armed struggle) diminished? No. On the contrary, it is growing and developing. "When we talk about 'peaceful resistance, ' we are deceiving the public", he explained.

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Dershowitz, a Harvard law professor emeritus, said that Hamas encouraged Palestinian civilians to storm the border - including women and children - because they wanted the media to report on the resulting body count and dead civilians.

"When you are in possession of weapons that were able to withstand the occupation [Israel] in the wars of 2006, 2008, 2012 and 2014..."

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop recognised Israel's "legitimate security concerns" but called on it to "refrain from excessive use of force", also urging Gazans to "refrain from violence and attempting to enter into Israeli territory".

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