People wave the Hamas flag during a demonstration to mark Jerusalem day outside Al-Aqsa Mosque in Jerusalem in 2015 (AFP )
GAZA CITY (Ma'an) -- A senior Hamas official criticized the Palestinian Authority (PA) on a number of issues during a gathering in Gaza City on Tuesday to honor international award-winning Gaza-based journalists, when he also addressed recent cross-border tensions between Gaza and Israel.
Khalil al-Hayya referred to the PA, the governing body of the occupied West Bank, as a “de facto government,” saying that the PA should “do its duties and shouldn't wash its hands of Gaza and drown (Gaza) in troubles.”
“Do you enjoy the sufferings of the people of Gaza, and still deny us the right to improve this reality?" al-Hayya asked, addressing the PA.
The Fatah-dominated PA and Hamas have been embroiled in conflict since Hamas' election victory in 2006 elections in the Gaza Strip, which erupted into a violent conflict between the two movements as both attempted to consolidate control over the territory.
Tensions have remained steady as the PA last month decided to hold local elections
in the occupied West Bank on May 13 as scheduled, while excluding Palestinians in the Hamas-ruled Gaza Strip from taking part.
After the PA announced at the end of January that local elections would be scheduled in both the West Bank and Gaza, Hamas, the de facto ruling party of Gaza, along with the Islamic Jihad movement, promptly rejected the plan, saying that elections should only take place after the more than decade-long rivalry between Hamas and Fatah comes to an end and reconciliation is achieved.
Al-Hayya went on to address recent cross-border tensions
between Gaza and Israel, which have been on a high following a number of airstrikes and shelling by Israeli forces and shooting and rocket fire from Gaza, saying that the Hamas movement “is not seeking new military confrontations with the Israeli occupation.”
"We don't seek war, and we are committed to the ceasefire agreement of 2014." However, he went on to say, "if the Israeli occupation wages war against us, our lions will respond in the fields."
"We are not war fanatics, but we are a bereaved and oppressed people who resist occupation," al-Hayya said.
The rights group called on the international community to “act promptly against Israel’s military escalation, to fulfill their obligations to protect civilians, and ensure respect for the rules of international law,” stressing that “acting before a full-scale military bombardment is launched is crucial to ensuring the protection of Palestinian civilians in the Gaza Strip.”
Israeli officials have accused Hamas, Gaza's de facto leaders, of "preparing" for another war with Israel and have threatened retaliatory measures against the Gaza Strip as a whole, while Israeli authorities hold Hamas responsible for all attacks against Israeli targets coming from the Gaza Strip.