US Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt (L) and Major General Yoav Mordechai (R)..
(photo credit: COORDINATION OF GOVERNMENT ACTIVITIES IN THE TERRITORIES)
US Special Envoy to the Middle East Jason Greenblatt reaffirmed Washington's support for the Palestinian Authority's push to regain control of the Gaza Strip Wednesday, after touring the region with Major General Yoav Mordechai.
"It is clear that the PA must resume its role in managing the Gaza Strip," Greenblatt said, "since Hamas has severely harmed the residents and failed to meet their most basic needs."
Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, briefed government ministers on the security situation and existing threats in Gaza, as well as on humanitarian measures taken by Israel to help residents of the Strip, according to Ma'ariv
The Iran-backed Islamist group Hamas has controlled Gaza since it ousted Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas' more moderate Fatah party in June 2007.
Greenblatt urged Hamas to return the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed in action by the terrorist group during Operation Protective Edge in 2014, and to release Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who are believed to still be held captive by the group.
Mordechai and Greenblatt visited the Kerem Shalom crossing, a central route for transporting food, equipment and supplies to and from Gaza, and Erez Crossing, where they met and spoke with Palestinian residents of the Strip.
They also toured a Hamas tunnel in the region.
"One kilometer of such a tunnel costs about $200,000," Mordechai said. "This means that instead of a tunnel, hospitals in the Gaza Strip can be built, but Hamas' priorities are the primary interests of the military wing and terror."
"Hamas is acting cynically and exploiting civilian humanitarian assistance to strengthen itself, and the Palestinian population in the Gaza Strip is paying the price," he said.
The special envoy also visited the Iron Dome battery and Kibbutz Nahal Oz, where he met with Alon Shuster, head of the Sha'ar Hanegev Regional Council, and residents of the kibbutz who spoke about their lives near the Gaza border.
"I visited the Gaza border today. I learned a lot about the difficult challenges facing the IDF, Israeli residents living in the nearby areas and the residents of Gaza, as a result of Hamas' misuse of humanitarian aid and its commitment to terrorism and violence," Greenblatt said.