Following a series of events that have once again heightened tensions between Israel and Gaza, Hamas announced that it will maintain the ceasefire if Israel does the same.
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh, the group’s leader in the Gaza Strip, said on Friday that Hamas intends on abiding by all the provisions agreed to following Operation Protective Edge, this summer’s 50-day conflict, provided that Israel does the same.
“It is clear we are committed to [the] calm as long as the Israeli occupier is committed as well,’ he told Palestinian media.
According to Channel 2, Haniyeh announced that “negotiations are underway with Egypt and other parties in order to force Israel to stand by its agreements.”
The Gazan leader also called on Cairo to reopen the Rafah Crossing, the sole border crossing between Egypt and the coastal enclave, adding that Egypt’s security and stability was the group’s top priority.
A separate report cited by Channel 2 suggested that Qatar, an energy-rich gulf state that has been the group’s most generous financier, had temporarily suspended aid to Hamas in an effort to pressure the terrorist group to stop abetting jihadist activity in Egypt’s restive Sinai peninsula. The unconfirmed report was based on statements made by Egyptian security sources to the Kuwaiti newspaper al-Jarida.
On Wednesday, an Israeli solider along the Gaza border was seriously injured after being shot in the chest by a sniper. The shooting then sparked a cross-border firefight between IDF personnel and gunmen within the strip. The situation came to a head when an IDF tank shell struck a Hamas position in the city of Khan Younis, killing a Hamas commander and injuring three others.
The IAF responded further by launching an airstrike on targets within the Palestinian territory later that night.
Although Hamas has announced its wish to restore a relative state of calm, Jerusalem dispatched two Iron Dome batteries to the southern Israeli cities of Netivot and Beersheba on Thursday night.
While no official reason was given for the presence of the missile defense systems, the move comes less than a week after a Kassam rocket fell in an open area in the Eshkol region — the third since the August 26 ceasefire.