Hamas Officials Tell Yomiuri They Reject Talks with Israel; Killing of Civilians in Rafah, Whole of Gaza Must Stop First, They Say

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Taher Nono speaks to The Yomiuri Shimbun in Doha on Tuesday.

DOHA — Taher Nono, a consultant to

Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, said in an interview with The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday in Doha that it is impossible to negotiate with Israel while the country is killing civilians in Gaza.

“The killing of families and civilians makes it difficult for us to talk about any negotiations with the occupation,” Nono, 49, said, referring to Israel as “the occupation.” He also made it clear that what he said was the position of Hamas, the Islamist militant group that effectively rules the Palestinian territory of Gaza.

Negotiations over a ceasefire in Gaza and the release of hostages, based on new proposals made by Egypt and Qatar, had been expected to resume by the end of this week, but Nono’s remarks show that Hamas has hardened its attitude following the Israeli forces’ attacks on Rafah in the southern Gaza Strip.

Nono comes from Gaza and is a close aide to Haniyeh, the Qatar-based leader of Hamas.

“We believe that what is happening now against our people is a real Holocaust against Palestinians, whether in Rafah or other areas of the Gaza Strip,” Nono said. “The occupation must immediately cease fire, and then we can talk.”

Meanwhile, Ghazi Hamad, a member of Hamas’ negotiation team, was also interviewed by The Yomiuri Shimbun on Tuesday.

“It is not reasonable to sit at the table to talk about negotiation at the same time a massacre is [happening] in Gaza,” Hamad, 59, said.

On Sunday, two days after the International Court of Justice issued a temporary measure ordering an immediate halt to military attacks on Rafah, Israeli forces launched an air raid on an area where there were many tents used by displaced people in Rafah. According to Reuters, at least 45 people were killed in the attack.

The latest battle in Gaza was triggered by Hamas’ attack on Israel in October last year, which killed 1,200 people and resulted in Hamas’ taking about 250 hostages. Israeli forces are continuing their attacks on Gaza with the stated aim of destroying Hamas and freeing the hostages, while the surprise attack by Hamas is also strongly criticized by the international community.