- (Photo: REUTERS)
A well-respected, powerful Islamic cleric of the Gaza Strip recently issued a fatwa, or religious edict, which ruled it a "sin" to disobey the Israel-Hamas cease-fire agreement brokered by Egypt last week.
"Honoring the truce, which was sponsored by our Egyptian brethren, is the duty of each and every one of us. Violating it shall constitute a sin," Suleiman al-Daya, an Islamic cleric reportedly respected by Hamas forces, wrote in a fatwa issued Saturday, Nov. 24.
The truce, or cease-fire, was reached on Nov. 21 after eight days of deadly fighting between Israel and the Palestinian militant group Hamas, which governs the Gaza Strip. The fighting reportedly claimed 145 lives.
Although U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton described the cease-fire as a "critical moment for the region," many have remained skeptical of the lasting effect of the truce.
While Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, reportedly has said that he was "satisfied, for the moment, with the outcome" of the cease-fire agreement, he has warned pilots that if Hamas opens fire again, they have permission to decimate their remaining weapon arsenals on the Gaza Strip.
Still, the Hamas militant group appears to be interested in maintaining peace, with Taher Nunu, spokesman for Gaza's Hamas government, telling reporters this past Sunday that the militant group seeks to keep the peace.
"The government reaffirmed its blessing to the agreement sponsored by Cairo and emphasized that it will work to the internal Palestinian consensus and the supreme national interest," Nunu told reporters, according to The Associated Press.
According to the AP, Hamas is demanding that Israel and Egypt lift their blockades on the Palestinian territory and allow for trade and border crossings into and out of Gaza.
In return, Israel is demanding that Hamas stop smuggling arms into Gaza.
As The New York Times points out, both Israeli and Palestinian leaders are remaining mum on the status of the negotiations.
Regardless, Israel has made it clear that it plans to do all negotiating with Egypt as a mediator, instead of working directly with Hamas.
"We attach importance to the dialogue with Egypt," an Israeli official, who chose to remain anonymous, told the NYT on Monday.
"Hopefully we can positively engage with the Egyptian government, which is something that we view as a plus," the official added.