Israel-Hamas Talks: Hudna In Exchange For Lifting Of Closure

C. Jacob | MEMRI Introduction Along with Hamas’s preparations for the next conflict with Israel, that include producing rockets and excavation of cross-border attack tunnels, Hamas’s leaders are conducting comprehensive negotiations with Israel, via European and Arab mediation, to achieve a hudna that will last several years in exchange for Israel’s removal of the closure on the Gaza Strip. Apparently, Hamas was forced to agree to a period of calm in order to ease its residents’ suffering and to rebuild following last summer’s war, and in order to build up its military power using the hudna as cover, as Hizbullah has done following the 2006 Lebanon war. Egypt was the mediator in Israel-Hamas contacts after the war of summer 2014, which led, in August of that year, to the signing of a tahdiya (brief lull in the fighting) agreement. However, the negotiations, which were to have gone on to hammer out the tahdiya itselfwere stopped due to the crisis in Egypt-Hamas relations following the September 2, 2014 terror attack on Egyptian troops in the Sinai. At that time, Egypt accused Hamas of involvement in the attack and of not preventing Salafi extremists from crossing into the Sinai from the Gaza Strip. Consequently, Egypt stepped up its pressure on Hamas – closing the Rafah crossing for lengthier periods, destroying the tunnels from the Gaza Strip into the Sinai, and expanding the buffer zone – thus increasing the hardship for Hamas and for the Gaza residents. Additionally, the difficulties in implementing the Fatah-Hamas reconciliation agreement have impeded reconstruction in the Gaza Strip and have delayed any improvement in its economic situation. The Palestinian government did not function in Gaza primarily because Hamas denied it freedom of action. Hamas rejected the PA demand to hand over control of the border crossings to Abbas’ representatives in Gaza whereas the PA refused to pay the salaries of Hamas officials in Gaza. Hitherto, the two movements have not managed to reach to resolve these issues. Given this state of affairs, what alleviates the plight of the Gaza residents is the increased volume of goods that Israel is allowing into Gaza through its borders. Likewise, Egypt’s temporary disappearance from the Hamas-Israel agreement arena, and the continuing dead end in reconciliation between Hamas and the Fattah, that is preventing the PA from exerting influence in Gaza, have created a vacuum that is being filled by representatives of the European countries and representatives of Qatar and Turkey, who have begun mediating between Israel and Hamas. Hamas senior official Khalil Al-Haya wrote: Efforts are being made in the international arena to prevent an escalation between Israel and Hamas given Egyptian indifference to the tahdiya issue.”[1] Indirect negotiations between Hamas and Israel are nothing new. They were conducted in the second and third Gaza wars (Operations Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge) and in the Shalit deal. What is novel is a readiness by the Hamas movement to discuss a hudna that will last for 3-10 years. This constitutes a further erosion of the Hamas position that rejects a long-term hudna but also erosion of the Israeli position that refuses to conduct negotiations with terrorists. Nevertheless, this is a measure that could bring tranquility for years to southern Israel. To avoid conceding that negotiations with Israel are taking  place, Hamas speaks of unofficial talks that it calls ‘chatter’ and recalls the Hudaibiya Agreement[2], which has come to symbolize a temporary agreement that can be violated when conditions permit. Such rhetoric begs the question whether the lull agreement that is in the offing that can produce many years of quiet, or is this a lull intended to facilitate Hamas’ preparation for the next round of conflict.

International Involvement In The Negotiations; The Goal: Gaza’s Development For Israeli Security

In the first half of 2015, Gaza has been frequented by representatives of European states such as German Foreign Minister Frank Steinmeier and former Quartet representative Tony Blair as well as the UN Special Coordinator Nikolay Mladenov.[3] Some met with senior Hamas officials.[4] Mladenov’s predecessor, Robert Serry, was the first to broach the negotiations proposal in March 2015, when he argued that building a port in Gaza would take many years and that a long-term hudna was therefore required as well as Gaza’s rehabilitation under the sponsorship of a Palestinian national agreement government. According to Serry, his Hamas interlocutors had promised to study the proposal on condition that the other parties (Israel and Egypt) would open the crossings.[5] Lamis Al-Hums, a columnist for the Hamas mouthpiece Al-Resala, wrote that negotiations were not something new, but a continuation of previous efforts and noted that former UN representative Robert Serry had visited Gaza a few times in February 2015, accompanied by the Swiss consul Paul Garnier and that  met with senior Hamas officials.[6] Al-Resala mentioned reports on intensive contacts for producing a lengthy tahdiyaled by former US president Jimmy Carter, who according to the reports met with Khaled Mash’al in Qatar.[7] During his visit to Gaza, German Foreign Minister Steinmeier called to stop the rocket fire because development and security were intertwined and said that “it is impossible to attain security and rehabilitation in Gaza until the crossings are opened”.[8] At a press conference with PA Prime Minister Rami Hamdallah, the German foreign minister expressed his willingness to mediate in a prisoner exchange deal between Hamas and Israel saying: “We will do so upon request.”[9] Following the visit, columnist ‘Issam Shawer wrote on the Hamas website: “A solution to the Gaza Strip crisis is entering a practical and serious stage. For the Germans will not waste their time. The visit by a high level delegation of 60 people headed by the foreign minister does not take place simply to test a few ventures in Gaza that Germany is a party to.”[10] The European representatives, who visited Gaza operated in the same spirit, attempting to reach a tahdiya agreement in exchange for economic improvement. Hamas representatives initially criticized the attempt to link the two issues together but as time went by, they had to reconcile themselves to it. As for Turkish and Swiss involvement, the Egyptian daily Al-Watan reported that intensive talks between Israel and Hamas sponsored by Turkey were held in Western capitals and discussed setting up a floating port between Turkish Cyprus and Gaza and repatriating the body of an Israeli soldier in exchange for the return of Hamas prisoners. The talks took place in Bern, Berlin and Ankara as well as in Israel. According to Al-Watan, Israel raised a surprising proposal that Hamas expand the Gaza Strip in the direction of the Sinai Peninsula.[11] It should be noted that the European representatives maintained direct contacts with Hamas representatives although the latter had not accepted the Quartet’s conditions. This represents an achievement for Hamas that it possibly will gain official entry to European diplomatic contacts without having to amend its policy on recognizing Israel, abandoning violence and honoring previous agreements. On February 15, 2015, former Quartet representative Tony Blair visited Gaza and posed demands to Hamas in an effort to promote the diplomatic process and Gaza’s rehabilitation. The most important of these demands was to accept the two-state solution as the termination of the conflict, thus in effect agreeing to the Quartet’s terms: abandoning terror, honoring previous agreements and recognizing Israel. Blair also demanded that Hamas clarify its identity: a Palestinian nationalist movement dedicated to the achievement of a Palestinian State or part of a broader Islamist movement with regional designs that impact governments outside of Gaza. He also demanded that Hamas provide Egypt with guarantees that Gaza would not serve as a base for terror activities against Egypt. Hamas rejected Blair’s demands.[12]

Details Of The Tahdiya Agreement

These indirect negotiations began to bear fruit, and the understandings between Israel and Hamas that Hamas representatives insisted on terming “ideas” and “proposals” began leaking to the media and shed light on the agreement taking shape: a long-term five-year hudna with an extension option; a removal of the closure that would be expressed by the opening of all crossing points between Israel and the Gaza Strip for the import and export of all goods; setting up a maritime crossing (a floating port); holding negotiations on freeing Hamas prisoners in exchange for the Israeli soldiers. Also discussed was a cessation of Israel air force flights over Gaza including by drones, an extension of the fishing zone to 12 km from the coast and the regulation of the Rafah crossing. Hamas spokesmen said that the tahdiya’s duration had not been determined and that it demanded guarantees that Israel would not hold up the agreement’s implementation and that Hamas would enjoy the right to retaliate if Israel violated the agreement.[13]

The PA’s Position On The Agreement

The PA is extremely concerned by the Israel-Hamas negotiations for two reasons. One is the question of who represents the Palestinians: Hamas bypassed the PA ignoring its exclusivity in representing the Palestinians. The other is the issue of Palestinian unity. As the PA sees it, the agreement will perpetuate the schism and reduce the prospects for attaining a Palestinian state. PA apprehensions that the PLO’s status as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinians would be eroded were apparent given the special status that the PA received as leader of the cease-fire negotiations during the last Gaza war (Protective Edge) and as representative of the Gazans. The Egyptians refused to meet with Hamas members as representatives of the Palestinian people demanding that a joint Fattah-Hamas delegation headed by a PA representative conduct the talks, and indeed Hamas was compelled to participate in a Palestinian delegation headed by senior Fattah official ‘Azam Al-Ahmad.

‘Abbas: Secret Negotiations Between Israel And Hamas; Warns Against Establishing Palestinian Statelet In Gaza

These reports on the chance of reaching an agreement between Israel and Hamas provoked great anger in the PA, but its members nevertheless found it difficult to assail Hamas’ desire to remove the closure and alleviate the plight of the Gazans. Therefore, PA spokesmen harped on the argument that in return for the tahdiya, Hamas would suffice with a statelet or with self-rule in Gaza that would expand to Sinai territories that would be annexed to Gaza. PA Chairman Mahmoud ‘Abbas said in a meeting with Fattah members in Ramallah, that he “totally opposed the venture of a state with temporary boundaries that Israeli parties were trying to market in agreement with familiar Palestinian elements [i.e. Hamas]. The Fattah movement would firmly oppose them. We will fight them [using] all methods.”[14] ‘Abbas dealt with this issue during his visit to Jordan as well, saying: “in my car I have a file containing a protocol of the secret contacts between Israel and Hamas.” He claimed: “these contacts started with talks about the return of an Israeli soldier of Ethiopian origin held in Gaza.”[15] Asked about the issue in an interview with the Egyptian weekly Roz Al-Yousuf, he said: “Now, direct negotiations are underway between Hamas and the Israelis, about Hamas’s establishment of a State of Gaza, the preparations for which began during the period of the Muslim Brotherhood rule [i.e. Muhammad Mursi’s rule in Egypt]. Members of the organization told me then, ‘We want to give those who love us i.e. Hamas) several kilometers in the Sinai’ and I told them at that time that I would never demand a centimeter of Egypt and stressed, ‘The land of Egypt is for Egypt and the land of Palestine is for Palestine.'”[16] Former PLO ambassador to Yemen Yahyah Rabah was also asked about the issue of a State of Gaza, and wrote in an article that Hamas was deliberately delaying the reconciliation in order to obtain a statelet n Gaza that included territory in the Sinai: “This is an old-new initiative that our people has torpedoed first in the 1940s, when the national liberation movement was still in its infancy, just after the Nakbah… The rules of the game must be changed; Hamas must be exposed in all its slyness, and it must be completely condemned… In its conflict with the [Palestinian] people, it has plunged its dagger in their back, in Israel’s favor.”[17]

PLO Members: The Agreement Harms The PLO’s Authority And Sows Schism Between The West Bank And Gaza

PLO spokesmen stated that by signing an agreement, Hamas would perpetuate the schism in the Palestinian people, lead to the West Bank’s being cut off from Gaza, and also eliminate any chance for reconciliation between it and Fatah. They accused Hamas of undermining the PLO’s authority, by prioritizing its own survival in power over Palestinian unity and over the desire to establish a state for all Palestinians. According to Fatah spokesman Ahmad ‘Asaf: “Hamas has sold Al-Aqsa and the West Bank for billions. The negotiations are a concession of the Palestinians’ rights. The construction of a port, the lifting of the closure, and the declaring of a hudna in Gaza constitute a betrayal and a perpetuation of the separation between it and the West Bank.”[18] In an op-ed on Maannews.net, Bethlehem Fatah activist ‘Aouni Al-Mashniwrote: “Hamas is negotiating in order to perpetuate its regime in Gaza… It has violated its principle of no negotiations with Israel only for the sake of [maintaining] its regime. Hamas will succeed in continuing to rule Gaza, but this will have the taste of betrayal and national defeat. It will succeed in perpetuating the schism between the West Bank and Gaza.”[19] Former PA minister Ashraf Al-Ajrami wrote: “There is no envying Hamas, in light of the collapse of the slogans and declarations that it has reiterated for many long years… for example ‘No to Negotiations’ and ‘No to Concessions on the Entire Land of Palestine, Since It Is The Land Of The Islamic Waqf’ – because in fact it is accepting much less than the PLO factions, headed by Fatah, accepted. They were accused of betrayal just because they agreed to the solution of an independent Palestinian state in the territories taken in 1967, and were again accused of betrayal because they accepted the Oslo Accords.”[20]

Hamas Responds: Denies Negotiating, But At The Same Time Points Out Its Advantages

Hamas was aware of the PA’s criticism of it. Along with its rejection of the claims against it, it defended its forthcoming agreement with Israel, presenting its contacts with it as indirect, not direct. The first to reveal the Israel-Hamas contacts was Ahmad Yousuf, who served as political advisor to former Hamas Prime Minister Isma’il Haniya. Calling the contacts “chatter” that is, unofficial chats, he denied that there were any direct negotiations underway with Israel. He said, “There is “chatter between Hamas and Israel, with European mediation,” and added, “Surprises are expected on the issue of the Israeli prisoners…There are contacts for forming a Saudi-Turkish-Qatari pact, and for an Egyptian-Turkish-Qatari reconciliation – which will lead to improved Hamas-Egypt relations.”[21] Ahmad Yousuf. Source: Maannews.net, May 4, 2015. It should be noted that Yousuf’s relatively pragmatic approach generally differs from the positions that Hamas presents to the public. He could be testing the waters in an unofficial capacity to see how the public responds, or could be sending a message from Hamas to Israel and European parties..For the most part, Hamas officials ignored his statementsexcept for a handful who denied them, such as Hamas official Isma’il Radwan: “There is no dialogue or contact with the enemy except via rifles… Yousuf does not represent the official Hamas position, and does not reflect it; he expressed his own personal opinion, like any politician or commentator.” This time, on the issue of contacts with Israel the response was more nuanced: there were those who reiterated Yousuf’s statements, altering them only slightly. Hamas international relations chief Osama Hamdan clarified: “Hamas has accepted proposals in writing on the subject of the tahdiya with Israel; it is examining these proposals and will respond to the element that submitted them.”[22] In contrast, Hamas political bureau member Moussa Abu Marzouq said: “Hamas has not received in writing any ideas from European elements for a tahdiya with Israel.”[23] The dual approach to contacts with Israel was very evident in statements by Hamas deputy political bureau director Isma’il Haniya. At an April 11, 2015 meeting of the Hamas labor unions in Gaza, Haniya said: “We are turning to indirect negotiations (with the occupation) on several issues, including the construction of a port. Turkey, which has begun to act on this matter, has proposed it to the Europeans, and they have agreed on the construction of a port in Gaza… But the PA and Egypt have expressed objections.”[24] However, at a rally in Khan Yunis, he said: “The fighters of Hamas and the Al-Qassam Brigades have negotiated with the enemy, but with force, with fighting, and with rifles, with martyrdom and on the battlefield of jihad.”[25] Hamas political bureau head Khaled Mash’al said that Israel had asked Hamas via a European mediator to free “two soldiers and two bodies” from the war of summer 2014, and that “our movement is refraining from responding, and told the mediator that it will not conduct any form of negotiations whatsoever on the questions of whether it has Israeli captives, what their situation is, how many there are, and whether they are dead or alive. Hamas will not provide any information on this matter before Israel frees the Palestinian prisoners released in the Shalit deal in 2011 and who were subsequently rearrested afterwards.”[26] Even the Hamas media reported on the tahdiya. The Hamas mouthpiece Al-Resala wrote, citing a movement official who preferred to remain unnamed: “The proposals that were submitted could be a basis on which the Palestinians could agree on, particularly because they are part of the demands presented by the factions in the tahdiya talks with Israel in Cairo [in the last war], except that the Palestinian factions need to discuss how long the hudna will last and what its conditions will be.”[27]

Ahmad Yousuf: Even The Prophet Muhammad Signed The Hudaibiya Treaty

In his answers to all those who wrote about the exposure of the Israel-Hamas talks, he clarified that while he did not always represent Hamas, that this time he had information about the talks; he also hinted that he had reported about them in the Hamas media Yousuf stated that Hamas was not negotiating because Israel did not want to, and because the PLO was authorized to do so. He said that sometimes there was a need for pragmatism: “Indeed, in some cases I do not represent the movement position… but in politics there is commentary, leaks, hidden messages that must be conveyed to the Palestinian arena, to the neighboring Arab countries, to the Muslim countries, and to the world. In the capacity of my role as writer and thinker, and my extensive connections, perhaps I have more information and data than other leaders in Hamas. I do not like the stance taken by [Radwan] in his statements about my status in the movement and my ability to reflect its positions. For 45 years I have been a member [of Hamasand have played many roles. As far as the organizational hierarchy goes, I am higher up than he is, and therefore his statements about me require him to apologize…”[28] Yousuf attempted to justify the negotiations and the agreements, stating that the Prophet Muhammad himself had made them in his timeand hinted that Hamas is under no obligation to fulfill them. “Hamas is not in favor of negotiating with the occupation, not because this is permitted or forbidden, but because it is convinced that Israel and the Netanyahu government have no political vision of peace with the Palestinians. The only language [that we should use] is to cling to the rifle and to mobilize the Arab and Islamic nation for the crucial battle against the occupation…  In Hamas history or ideology, there is nothing attesting to a desire to negotiate with the occupation. “It has left this to the PLO, to the PA, and to President Mahmoud ‘Abbas. Hamas is opposed when it sees the principles of the Palestinian cause in danger and its sanctity harmed… It does not want negotiations, but we will remain faithful to the Palestinian national enterprise… There are cases of interests and pragmatism. The lesson that must be learned in negotiations is the extent to which you have succeeded in attaining what you want and achieving your aspirations. Islamist history has known more than 800 peace treaties that the Muslims signed with their enemies, the most famous of which is the Hudaibiya agreement, that Muhammad signed with the infidels of Mecca, and the Treaty of Ramla between Salah Al-Din and the Crusaders.”[29] Muhammad Al-Jamal wrote in Al-Resala on the same day: “There are Hamas members who have begun to demand direct negotiations with Israel because of Egypt’s hostility towards the movement. The fact is that those who reject this are not acting out of opposition in principle, or for religious reasons, but out of a tactical stance connected with the balance of power… They also remind [us]that the Prophet several times negotiated with his Jewish rivals and also with the polytheists… Nevertheless, the traditional stance of the Hamas leadership is that there is no direct negotiation with Israel.”[30] Ibrahim Al-Madhoun, who pens a column on Hamas websites, wrote: “Hamas today can play a prominent and important political role, including signing relatively long-term hudna agreements and refraining from conflict – but it is obvious that this will be done with a policy that is different than the one with which the Israelis are accustomed with ‘Abbas and in a different way than his way. Hamas has conducted indirect negotiations before, and there is nothing to prevent it from a religious or national standpoint, and there is not even a political veto to conduct direct negotiations. Hamas is honest and clear, and it will make all contacts public, if there are any. Any Tahdiya approved by Hamas, will not entail disarmament or disbanding or fighting the resistance groups.”[31]

Columnists: The Negotiations Are Aimed At Easing The Situation Of Gaza’s Residents Without Recognizing The Quartet’s Conditions

Hamas spokesmen called ‘Abbas’s claims against Hamas “lies” and attempted to downplay the political dimensions of the negotiations, and to equate it to a humanitarian effort aimed solely at easing the situation of the Palestinians. Lamis Al-Hums wrote in Al-Resala: “Political history has charged the PA and its leader only with making known information about efforts to hammer out a tahdiya.”[32] The main claim of Hamas was that it is concerned with easing the suffering of the people, and nothing more, as Hamas foreign relations chief Osama Hamdan stated: “The proposal submitted by Hamas will not exceed activity for an end to the siege, and Hamas will consider this positively due to the suffering of the Palestinian people.”[33] Other Hamas members argued that there is no change in Hamas’s policy in the matter of an agreement or negotiations with Israel, since in August 2014 Israel and Hamas signed a tahdiya agreement, even though Egypt did not finalize it. Osama Hamdan said: “The ideas [raised in the indirect negotiations] are connected to the issue of completing the tahdiya file, which was discussed at the time of the last Israeli aggression against the Gaza Strip. The suggestions are connected to completing the tahdiya that followed the last war against Gaza.”[34] There were those who justified Hamas’s consent to negotiate by citing Egypt’s and the PA’s negative attitude towards HamasIbrahim Al-Madhoun wrote: “President Mahmoud ‘Abbas pushed the [Gaza] Strip to adopt the option of negotiations by opposing the implementation of sections of the reconciliation, the integration of [Hamas] officials in the PA, and the removal of the blockade.”[35]Mahmoud Haniya, another Al-Resala writer, quoted assessments that “the PA did not give Hamas any option but a bilateral solution to the problems of the Strip, and this led its leaders to respond in the affirmative to the European proposal.”[36] Other reactions to the PA’s claims that it was being bypassed and this would perpetuate the schism,took the line that the PA opposed the negotiations out of concern about its prestige, and out of fear that such negotiations would yield results that would expose its impotence in assuring the Palestinians’ wellbeing and interests, and its failures in the political process. Fayez Abu Shamala, a columnist for websites affiliated with Hamas, wrote: “The significance of the success of the negotiations is that Hamas will, through indirect negotiations, arrive at a political and national achievement and also an achievement for the daily lives of the Palestinian people without recognizing the conditions of the Quartet and without recognizing Israel. This humiliates the PA, that recognized Israel and has not gained even a minimal political achievement in 22 years of direct negotiations.”[37]

Mahmoud Al-Zahar: We Have No Intention Of Establishing A State In Gaza; Our Goal Is All Of Palestine

Hamas members rejected the PA’s claim that they were seeking to establish a Palestinian state in Gaza outright. They made it clear that any agreement made would be contingent upon the agreement of all the Palestinian factions and even during Hamas’ exclusive rule of Gaza it never worked to establish an independent state in Gaza. Senior Hamas official Mahmoud Al-Zahar said that Hamas would never suffice with less than the entire land of Palestine soil and honoring every principle. He said: “It is necessary to establish our government in every part of Palestine that will be liberated and this government can be called by any name [whatsoever]. It is possible to call this government an emirate or a state as long as the term does not contradict the basic position that all Palestine is ours.”[38] Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum also denied that talks were underway between Israel and Hamas on establishing a separate Palestinian entity and claimed that the report was false: “Is Hamas, which conducted three wars in which leaders and commanders were killed, really negotiating with the Israeli enemy and striving to establish a separate entity in Gaza [thereby] eliminating the Palestinian cause?” He claimed that Hamas would not yield one inch of Palestinian soil. “Palestine from the [Mediterranean] Sea to the [Jordan] River [will be] for the Palestinians. We will not recognize Israel. The resistance in all its forms is legitimate until all of Palestine is liberated.”[39] Jacob is a research fellow at MEMRI. SOURCE: MEMRI.ORG

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  Endnotes: [1] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 13, 2015. [2] The Hudaibiya Agreement of 628 between Muhammad and his Meccan enemies was to last for 10 years but it was violated two years later with Muhammad’s conquest of Mecca. The agreement serves as a precedent for signing limited term peace agreements when the Muslims’ benefit is the supreme interest. [3] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 4, 2015. [4] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 4, 2015. [5] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 2, 2015. [6] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 4, 2015. [7] Al-Resala(Gaza), April 30, 2015 [8] Al-Ayyam (PA), June 2, 2015. [9] Al-Hayat (London), June 1, 2015. [10] Felesteen.ps, June 1, 2015. [11] Amad.ps; Al-Watan (Egypt),  May 20, 2015. [12] See MEMRI Daily Brief No. 5995, “Hamas Rejects Quartet Representative Blair’s Demands: ‘We Will Not Give Up Our Principles As Part Of Solving The Problems Of Gaza Residents’,” March 16, 2015. [13] Al-Ayyam (PA), Al-Resala (Gaza), June 16, 2015. [14] Al-Ayyam (PA), May 1, 2015. [15] Amad.ps, May 19, 2015. [16] See MEMRI Special Dispatch No. 6096, “‘Abbas In Interview: Hamas Dragged The Palestinians Into A War With Israel In Summer 2014; Now It Is Conducting Direct Talks With Israel,” July 7, 2015. [17] Al-Hayat Al-Jadida (Palestinian Authority), May 2, 2015. [18] Alwatanvoice.com, April 30, 2015. [19] Maannews.net, May 3, 2015. [20] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), May 13, 2015. [21] Maannews.net, May 4, 2015. [22] Amad.ps, June16, 2015. [23] Maanews.net, May 4, 2015. [24] Amad.ps, May 19, 2015. [25] Palinfo.com, April 16, 2015. [26] Al-Ayyam (Palestinian Authority), July 9, 2015. [27] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 20, 2015. [28] Maannews.net, May 4, 2015. [29] Maannews.net, May 4, 2015. [30] Al-Resala (Gaza), April 30, 2015. [31] Al-Resala (Gaza), April 6, 2015. [32] Al-Resala (Gaza), May 4, 2015. [33] Amad.ps, June 16, 2015. [34] Amad.ps, June 16, 2015. [35] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 6, 2015. [36] Al-Resala (Gaza), June 15, 2015. [37] Felesteen.ps, June 17, 2015. [38] Amad.ps, April 14, 2015. [39] Palinfo.com, April 13, 2015.  ]]>