Al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Islamic Resistance Movement (Hamas) announced on Friday that its operatives will not disarm after the pullout from the Gaza Strip, intended to start in three days.
The Brigades said they want to press Israel to withdraw from more land in the West Bank.
Israeli officials have repeatedly declared that Israel intends to annex the major settlements blocs including the ones around Jerusalem to Israel and keep them under Israeli control.
‘It is impossible for us to abandon our arms even if we all get killed. The issue of arms is not one for discussion,’ the head of Hamas’ Qassam Brigades, Ahmed Al-Ghandour, told reporters in northern Gaza.
He said Hamas would respond to any Israeli attacks but would not initiate any during the pullout.Ã‚Â ‘Every action will be met with a reaction,’ said Al-Ghandour.
The Islamic Jihad movement also voiced intention to halt all kinds of attacks during the pullout, but said it would respond to Israeli attacks if initiated.
Both movements repeatedly voiced commitment to the cease-fire declared in Sharm Al-Sheikh agreement earlier in February, and to the relative calm declared by the Palestinian factions after their Cairo talks in March.
Al-Ghandour commented that Hamas operatives will not join any of the Palestinian Authority Security forces, despite the Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ effort to do so.Ã‚Â He added that Hamas does not expect this to lead to confrontation with the PA.
Around 1,000 of Hamas operatives were exercising Friday, simulating the storming of settlements and attacks on Israeli soldiers.
Such exercises come while some Palestinian Authority officials voiced concerned that Hamas might attempt to break through PA ranks and send thousands of its supporters into the areas of evacuated Gaza settlements, despite an agreement to close off those areas after the pullout.
The PA, supported by Fatah operatives will close the evacuated settlements immediately after the pullout to all Palestinians except for a few PA figures and officials.
The PA also prohibited flying flags other than the Palestinian flags at the evacuated settlements.