Hamas rejects disarmament as reconciliation deadline looms
Hamas on Monday again refused to disarm ahead of a key reconciliation deadline, instead vowing to undertake military operations against Israel in the occupied West Bank.
Under an Egypt-brokered unity agreement reached last month Hamas is supposed to hand over civil control of Gaza to the Fatah-led national government on 1 December.
The Palestinian Authority took control of Gaza's border crossings on 1 November as part of the deal.
But the future of Hamas's armed wing - the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades – remains unclear.
"The weapons of the resistance are a red line that is non-debatable," Khalil al-Hayya, deputy head of Hamas in Gaza, told a press conference, referring to the Qassam Brigades.
"These weapons will be moved to the West Bank to fight the occupation. It is our right to resist the occupation until it ends".
The United States and Israel have said they will reject any reconciliation agreement leading to a unity government including Hamas unless it disarms.
President Mahmoud Abbas has also said there will only be one security force in the Palestinian territories.
The reconciliation agreement signed on 12 October in Cairo does not specify a future for the Qassam Brigades.
Last month Hamas's leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said that "no one" can force the group to disarm or recognise Israel after the United States demanded it meet those conditions as part of an emerging unity government.
The Palestine Liberation Organisation (PLO), an umbrella group of Palestinian parties which Hamas is not part of, has recognised Israel.
Hamas has not and is blacklisted as a terrorist group by the United States and European Union.