Hamas remains belligerent as Gazans are more cautious

Hamas held a rally in Gaza City yesterday, attracting approximately 2,000 people.

Hamas leader Mushir al-Masri told the assembled crowd, “The war is not over yet.  Our fighters are still in the field, in their frontline positions. Our tunnels still exist, and they reach into Israeli territory. If Israel doesn’t agree to our demands, we will come there.” He added, “They will never force us to abandon our weapons, both on the battlefield and in negotiations.”

The crowd chanted “bomb, bomb Tel Aviv”, but commentators remarked that the rally was much smaller than Hamas usual demonstrations.

It has emerged that Hamas spokesman Ayman Taha, found dead a few days ago in Gaza, was executed by Hamas as a spy. Taha, once a recognisable figure from TV news interviews on Hamas’s behalf, was accused of espionage for an Arab state, allegedly Egypt.

A poll released yesterday by the Interdisciplinary Centre in Herzliya shows 92 per cent of Palestinians in Gaza were in favour of a long-term ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, and 72 per cent supporting a peace agreement. In addition, 67 per cent of Gazans don’t blame Hamas for the destruction caused by the conflict, but a similar number – 68 per cent – would prioritise reconstruction over rearming.

A Hamas manual recovered by the IDF from Shujaiya in Gaza, “Introduction to Urban Warfare” tells Hamas fighters to take advantage of the IDF’s reluctance to fire in civilian areas and that encouraging the destruction of buildings is helpful because it “increases the hatred of the citizens toward the attackers.” The IDF claims that this manual shows that it is official Hamas military doctrine to use human shields.

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