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Asharq Al-Awsat
Asharq Al-Awsat
Ramallah - Kifah Zboun

Palestinian Islamic Jihad Says No Ceasefire If Members Not Freed

Palestinians celebrate the ceasefire agreement in Gaza City early Monday (AFP)

The Secretary-General of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) movement, Ziyad Al-Nakhalah, warned that if Israel does not abide by what was agreed upon, which includes the sole condition of releasing prisoners Khalil Al-Awawdeh and Bassam Al-Saadi, the movement will resume the fighting.

After three days of aggression against the Gaza Strip, Israel accepted an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire. The PIJ issued a statement on Sunday announcing that it agreed to the ceasefire.

“If Israel does not abide by what was agreed upon through the Egyptian mediator, the movement will resume the fighting,” said Nakhalah.

Speaking from Iran, Nakhalah confirmed that Israel had agreed to release Saadi, the head of the organization’s activities in the West Bank, and Awawdeh, who is currently on a hunger strike in protest of his administrative detention by Israel.

Nakhalah added that if Israel “does not abide by these demands that it agreed to, then we would treat this as if there was nothing [ceasefire] at all, the [ceasefire] agreement is void… We will not hesitate for a moment to resume the fighting,” he said.

The Egyptian-mediated deal, which went into effect at 11:30 p.m. Sunday, ended a three-day conflict between the PIJ and Israel. The conflict killed 44 Palestinians.

Nakhalah said that the ceasefire agreement “is simple and only includes the release of the two prisoners.”

However, in Israel, officials are saying that Tel Aviv made no commitment on releasing Saadi and Awawdeh.

Internal Security Minister Omer Barlev said on Monday that Israel did not agree to release the two PIJ prisoners as part of the ceasefire deal mediated by Egypt.

“Israel did not agree to anything, we responded negatively to the demands,” Barlev told the Kan public broadcaster.

Two other ministers backed Barlev's statements. Welfare and Social Affairs Minister Meir Cohen said that “there is no obligation on the part of Israel to release the prisoners,” and that “it will not happen.”

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