Hamas vows to maintain arms arsenal despite ceasefire deal with Israel
A top Hamas official has said the Gaza Strip truce won't stop Islamic militants from maintaining their arms arsenal in the wake of an eight-day conflict with Israel.
"These weapons protected us, and there is no way to stop obtaining and manufacturing them," the New York Daily News quoted Hamas' second-in-command, Moussa Abu Marzouk, as saying.
Hamas has two sources for its weapons inside Gaza: those produced locally, and those smuggled in from Iran via tunnels along the Gaza/Egypt border.
Marzouk's statement signaled possible hurdles in negotiations between Gaza's ruling Hamas and neighboring Israel to prevent a recurrence of the violence that killed 166 Palestinians and six Israelis.
An Israeli security official has linked any relaxation in its border blockade of Gaza to a commitment from Hamas to stop stockpiling weapons.
But there was some cause for optimism as the ceasefire was largely observed by both sides for a third day, and Gaza residents said Israel was easing up on some border restrictions.
Talks between the two sides are continuing in Cairo, where the Egyptian government is acting as a go-between after the region's worst violence in four years.
Egypt helped broker the agreement that ended the latest lethal outburst in the region. Israel refuses to negotiate directly with Hamas, condemning it as a terrorist group.