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Hamas Armed Wing Tables Plan for Breaking Gaza Deadlock

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In hopes of breaking political logjam, Hamas’s Al-Qassam Brigades calls for ‘political, security vacuum in Gaza’

The Ezzedin al-Qassam Brigades, the armed wing of Hamas, proposed a fresh initiative on Thursday aimed at breaking the political deadlock over the Gaza Strip’s dire humanitarian situation, a source within the group has told Anadolu Agency.

The source, who preferred anonymity due to the issue’s sensitivity, said the four-point plan was aimed at “allowing a political and security vacuum in Gaza that could lead to any outcome, including a possible military confrontation with the Israeli occupation”.

“Civilian police [in Gaza] would continue to provide their usual services, while certain local institutions would continue to meet the needs of citizens,” he said

Under the plan, the Qassam Brigades -- along with the military wings of other Palestinian factions -- would be entrusted with ensuring the coastal enclave’s security from external threats, the source explained.

Gaza’s Hamas-run security services, he added, would be charged solely with running Gaza’s civil affairs.

The source provided no further details in regards to the plan, which has reportedly been submitted to the Palestinian political leadership in Ramallah.

-‘Unprecedented steps’

The Gaza Strip remains in the throes of a devastating economic and humanitarian crisis, caused mainly by a decade-long Israeli/Egyptian blockade of the territory.

The crisis has been further exacerbated by a series of measures recently taken by Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, who heads both the Palestinian government and the Palestinian Authority (both of which are based in the West Bank city of Ramallah).

In April, Abbas vowed to take “unprecedented steps” in regards to the Gaza Strip, which has been governed by Hamas since 2007 and which therefore remains outside Ramallah’s control.

Abbas has since made good on his threat, with the Ramallah government cutting the salaries of all Gaza-based employees of the Palestinian Authority by some 30 percent.

The Palestinian Authority also recently reduced the amount it pays Israel each month for the provision of roughly 10 percent of Gaza’s electricity needs -- a move that has exacerbated the strip’s already-dire energy shortage.

What’s more, the Palestinian government forced 6,145 Gaza-based employees into early retirement last month without providing any justification for the move.

At the time, Palestine’s official WAFA news agency quoted a government spokesman as saying that the “temporary” measure could be reversed “in the event that Hamas halts all activities that contribute to internal [Palestinian] division”.

In 2014, Abbas’s Fatah movement -- which runs both the Palestinian Authority and government -- agreed in principle to establish a “national unity government” with other Palestinian factions, including Hamas.

The “unity government” later set up in Ramallah, however, has so far failed to resolve Gaza’s burgeoning crises, due mainly to deep ideological differences between the two rival movements.

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