Islamic cleric in Gaza says violating truce would be a sin



Washington: An Islamic cleric in the Gaza Strip has said it would be a sin to violate the recent cease-fire between Israel and the Hamas militant group that governs the Palestinian territory. A religious legitimacy was accorded to the truce and gave the Gaza government strong backing to enforce it, reports CBS News. The fatwa, or religious edict, was issued by Suleiman al-Daya, a cleric respected by both Hamas and ultra-conservative Salafis, which oppose political accommodations with Israel.

"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," the fatwa stated. The truce, meant to bring an end to an eight-day Israeli offensive against Gaza militants, remains fragile. The fighting killed 169 Palestinians, including dozens of civilians, and six Israelis.

Taher Nunu, the spokesman for Gaza's Hamas government, said Hamas is committed to the truce. "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," he said. Hamas demands that Israel and Egypt lift all restrictions on the movement of goods and people in and out of the Palestinian territory.

The restrictions have been imposed since the Islamists seized the territory in 2007. Israel has eased its full-fledged blockade in recent years, and some goods enter Gaza through smuggling tunnels under the border with Egypt. But Israel has continued to impose strict restrictions on exports and the import of construction materials, which has severely hampered the development of Gaza's battered economy. Israel is expected to link a significant easing of the blockade to Hamas's willingness to stop smuggling weapons into Gaza and producing them there.

ANI