The Hamas terror group reportedly said Thursday that efforts to reach a ceasefire with Israel had failed, warning Israel of “messages” to be sent within hours.
A source in the group was quoted by Lebanese Hezbollah-affiliated TV al-Mayadeen as saying Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi had left the territory after two days in which he brought cash to the Strip and tried to broker a ceasefire amid weeks of mutual attacks.
The source said the failure to reach a deal was due to Israel’s insistence on the equation of “calm in return for calm,” rather than “calm in return for an end to the blockade” of the Strip.
Gazans terror groups won’t let Israel “use the pretext of the balloons to bomb posts in the Strip,” the source was quoted as saying.
He added that “the coming hours will see messages to the Israeli occupation from the youth groups in the field.”
He said “the occupation should read these messages before things roll and slide into something broader than that.”
Balloons carrying incendiary devices from the Gaza Strip sparked at least 26 fires in southern Israel throughout the day, the fire department said Thursday evening.
According to Fire and Rescue Services, the blazes were relatively small, were quickly brought under control by firefighters and did not present threats to nearby communities. The fires all occurred in areas immediately surrounding the Gaza border, in the Hof Ashkelon, Sha’ar Hanegev and Eshkol regions.
Fire inspectors determined that the blazes were all caused by balloon-borne incendiary devices, the fire department said.
In recent days the IDF has responded to dozens of daily arson balloons and intermittent rocket fire with near-nightly reprisal strikes on Hamas targets in the Strip, including underground infrastructure; weapons production facilities; cement factories used to make parts for tunnel construction; and observation posts along the border.
Al-Emadi arrived in Gaza late Tuesday night, bringing $30 million in cash, seeking to ease the Israel-Hamas tensions that have led to daily arson balloon and rocket attacks on Israel and IDF reprisal strikes.
The money is earmarked to help the territory of two million people, half of whom live under the poverty line, sources close to the envoy told AFP.
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On Monday, the London-based Arabic-language daily Asharq al-Awsat reported that the head of the IDF Southern Command, Maj. Gen. Herzi Halevi, visited Qatar this week in a bid to secure a ceasefire agreement with Hamas.
The terror group is under immense international pressure from Qatar, Egypt and UN envoy Nickolay Mladenov to halt its attacks, alongside pressure from the Gazan public, which is getting only three to four hours of electricity per day after becoming used to more than three times that amount. The power shortages are a result of Israel stopping fuel imports in response to the violence, which led a Gaza power plant to shut down.
The uptick in violence along the border is thought to be linked to demands for increased cash transfers from Qatar to the Strip, where around 60 percent of the population is unemployed.