Young girl with a Kalashnikov joins in jihadists' celebration of 'victory' over Israel - but Palestinian president says Hamas are to blame for loss of 2,000 lives
- Palestinian President accused Hamas of needlessly extending war
- Abbas said 'it was possible for us to avoid all' of the deaths in Gaza
- Israel and Hamas reached truce on Tuesday, both sides declaring victory
- Islamist fighters held a 'victory over Israel rally' in Gaza City today
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Hamas of causing thousands of unnecessary deaths by fighting in Gaza for longer than was needed.
President Abbas said all casualties could have been avoided and blamed Hamas for needlessly extending the war with Israel.
His words came as hundreds of Palestinian Islamic militants took part in a rally celebrating the 'victory' over Israel, in Gaza City today.
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'Victory': A Palestinian girl holds a Kalashinkov as Islamist fighters celebrate what they call a 'victory' over Israel following Tuesday's ceasefire
Young children were seen brandishing
weapons as fighters of Al-Quds brigades, the military wing of the
Palestinian Islamist organisation Palestinian Islamic Jihad, marched in
Israel and Hamas militants fought for 50 days before reaching a truce on Tuesday, with both sides declaring a victory.
Abbas told Palestine TV in remarks broadcast Friday that 'it was possible for us to avoid all of that, 2,000 martyrs, 10,000 injured, 50,000 houses (damaged or destroyed).'
More than 2,100 Palestinians were killed, including hundreds of civilians. Seventy one people on the Israeli side, including six civilians, were killed.
Several Egyptian mediated cease-fire attempts failed. Hamas eventually accepted almost the same truce offered at the beginning.
Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants take part in the rally in Gaza City shortly after President Abbas's interview
'Could have been avoided': Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas, pictured earlier in the week, accused Hamas of needlessly extending fighting in the Gaza Strip, causing a high death toll
Indoctrinated: Two young Palestinian boys are seen perched on the shoulders of Islamic Jihad militants, holding weapons in their hands during the victory rally in Gaza City
Still armed: Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants carry automatic weapons during the rally to celebrate the ceasefire this week
Abbas, whose Palestinian Authority runs the West Bank, formed a unity government backed by Hamas earlier this year. Abbas questioned the future of that arrangement in the interview.
Egypt, which brokered the peace deal, has said that indirect talks between the two sides would resume within a month.
On Thursday, French President Francois Hollande told international diplomats that Europe could help oversee the destruction of tunnels used by Hamas militants and monitor the territory's border crossings with Israel and Egypt.
‘It is necessary to move toward an end to the blockade and a demilitarization of the territory,’ he said, indicating that international supervision could help pave the way for a return of Hamas' rival, the Palestinian Authority, to Gaza.
Celebration: A masked Palestinian holds a mock rocket during another victory rally held in the West Bank city of Hebron on Friday
Under fire: Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas said 'it was possible for us to avoid all' of the deaths in Gaza had Hamas not prolonged fighting
All for one: A very young fighter is decked out in military kit and gear on the streets of Gaza City of Friday
The French proposal, Hollande said, would ‘finally give the Palestinian Authority the means to respond to the humanitarian crisis and to begin reconstruction.’
Whether the sides are ready to accept external involvement is unclear.
Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for Israel's Foreign Ministry, said that the country is ready to consider any proposal but must be convinced that monitoring will work.
In Gaza, Hamad al-Rakeb, a Hamas spokesman, described Hollande's proposal as ‘mixing poison in the honey.’
Riyad Mansour, Abbas' ambassador to the United Nations, on Thursday welcomed the idea of international monitors as a ‘useful deterrent’ to more fighting.
He acknowledged, however, that disarming Hamas is ‘not realistic.’
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