Hamas said to demand new deal with Israel to end border violence

Lebanese newspaper reports terror group told Egyptian mediators that ‘patience has run out,’ Gazans don’t fear major military campaign

A fire in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip caused from airborne incendiaries flown by Palestinians, August 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
A fire in southern Israel near the border with the Gaza Strip caused from airborne incendiaries flown by Palestinians, August 13, 2020. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Hamas terror group reportedly told Egyptian mediators visiting the Gaza Strip that violence on the border with Israel will continue unless a new understanding is formed on conditions in the Palestinian enclave.

Lebanon’s Al-Akhbar newspaper reported Tuesday that Hamas officials told the Egyptian delegation that “Palestinian patience has run out.”

Palestinian sources told al-Akhbar that an earlier ceasefire agreement from 2018 included a number of understandings that have yet to be implemented. These include expanding the Gaza fishing area to 20 nautical miles, setting a new power line to the coastal enclave with Qatari financing and converting the Gaza power plant to run on natural gas.

At the Kerem Shalom commercial crossing with Israel, the sources said, the agreement allowed for the entry of dual-use materials, as well as increasing the capacity of the crossing to 1,200 trucks daily. The same sources said that the agreement was supposed to allow more Gazans to receive work permits inside Israel.

Armed factions in Gaza made it clear that, if their demands aren’t met, they are prepared for an escalation in violence and are not afraid of a major military campaign against Israel, the report said.

The Egyptian mediators were in the Gaza Strip on Monday in an effort to reduce tensions and prevent a new cross-border conflict between Israel and Hamas, but departed without appearing to have secured a resolution.

Mediators typically announce any agreements before leaving the territory. But after a day of meetings with officials from Hamas, the three Egyptian general intelligence envoys left for Israel, according to Adel Abdelrahman, a Gaza-based adviser to the Egyptian mediators. They made no declaration before departing.

The urgent visit came as hostilities broke out along the Gaza-Israel frontier after months of calm.

Israeli warplanes and aircraft carried out strikes on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip early Tuesday in response to continued arson balloon attacks on Israel, the Israel Defense Forces said.

The army said it hit “underground infrastructure of the Hamas terror group,” but gave no further details on the targets.

Balloons carrying an incendiary device float in the air upon release by Palestinians near Gaza’s Bureij refugee camp, by the Israel-Gaza border fence, on August 12, 2020. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

For the past week, Palestinian youth groups affiliated with Hamas, the terror group that seized control of Gaza from rival Palestinian Authority forces in 2007, have floated incendiary balloons toward Israel, setting swaths of farmland on fire. There has also been a renewal of nighttime clashes along the border fence with hundreds of Palestinians holding violent demonstrations along the boundary.

In addition, two rockets were fired from Gaza at Israel over the weekend, both intercepted by the Iron Dome anti-missile system.

Israel, which holds Hamas responsible for violence emanating from the territory, has responded with airstrikes on Hamas military sites, banned Gaza’s fishermen from taking to the sea and shut the main commercial crossing into the territory.

On Tuesday, the lone power plant in Gaza is scheduled to shut down because the closure of Kerem Shalom crossing has cut fuel supplies, exacerbating the power crisis and leaving Gaza’s 2 million residents with about four hours of electricity a day.

Hamas says Israel did not honor previous understandings reached with the help of Egypt and Qatar, in which Israel should ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since Hamas’ takeover and allow for large-scale projects to help rescue the collapsing economy.

Israel says the blockade, which is supported by Egypt, is needed to prevent Gaza terror groups form smuggling weapons into the territory. Goods are shipped to Israel, inspected, and then trucked into Gaza across the border.

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