Israel has reportedly warned Hamas that it would launch a military campaign unless violence at the Gaza border ends, irrespective of the upcoming April 9 election.
The message to the terror group was sent via mediators, including Egypt, Channel 12 (also known as Hadashot) news reported Saturday night.
“Israel can make tough decisions during elections and is not afraid of a military campaign,” Israel said in the message sent on Thursday.
Earlier on Saturday, Egypt reportedly agreed to permanently reopen its border crossing with the Gaza Strip if Hamas restrains clashes with Israeli troops.
The Rafah crossing was closed in early January after the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority withdrew its employees there, though it was reopened in both directions on Tuesday.
On Friday, Egypt’s offer was relayed to Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh during a meeting in Gaza with Egyptian intelligence officials and UN’s Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov, according to Ynet news site.
Quoting unnamed Palestinian sources, the report said that reopening the crossing on a permanent basis was intended as a concession to Hamas to curb violent protests along the border between Gaza and Egypt.
Speaking at the opening of a mosque on Friday in Gaza City, Haniyeh did not comment on the reported offer, but called the trilateral meeting “unprecedented.”
“Gaza is… an area of political interest because what is happening in Gaza affects the general Palestinian scene and what happens, and what will happen, in Gaza affects our region,” he said before returning to talks with UN and Egyptian officials.
For the past several months, Egypt, the UN and Qatar have worked to preserve calm in Gaza and prevent flare-ups between Israel and terror groups in the Strip.
Since last March, the Gaza border has seen large-scale weekly clashes on Fridays, smaller protests along the northern Gaza border on Tuesdays, as well as periodic flare-ups between the Israeli military and Palestinian terror organizations.
Gaza is controlled by Hamas, a terror group sworn to Israel’s destruction.
On Friday, the IDF said some 10,000 Palestinians took part in violent protests along the border, burning tires and hurling rocks and explosive devices at Israeli soldiers. Troops responded to the demonstrators with tear gas and live fire.
The Hamas-run health ministry in Gaza said 23 protesters were injured by live fire in the clashes; a female paramedic had been hit in the face with a tear gas canister.