Hamas said on Tuesday that it has received from Israel a timeline for the implementation of ceasefire understandings that were reached with Israel.
Ismail Haniyeh, head of the Hamas “political bureau,” said that his movement received the timeline from the Egyptian intelligence officials who returned to the Gaza Strip after holding talks in Israel about the ceasefire understandings.
Speaking to reporters in Gaza City, Haniyeh said that the Egyptians relayed to Israel a number of Hamas demands concerning Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons.
The demands, he said, include removing signal-jamming devices installed by the Israel Prison Service to stop inmates from using smuggled cellular phones. Hamas is also demanding that the Israel Prison Service cancel sanctions imposed on the Palestinian prisoners after the stabbing of two guards two weeks ago at Ketziot Prison in the Negev.
Haniyeh did not provide details about the understandings, which are designed to ensure a restoration of calm after last weeks violent flare up in which a rocket launched from Israel Gaza destroyed a home in central Israel, injuring seven member of the same family. Haniyeh did not provide details about the understandings.
However, Palestinian sources said that the Egyptian-sponsored understandings include a number of steps that have already occurred, including the expansion of the fishing zone to 28 nautical km. and the reopening of the Kerem Shalom and Erez border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip.
The delivery of Qatari funds to the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave is also expected to continue.
Hamas prisoners are threatening to go on a hunger strike next week to protest the jamming of their electronic devices and the restrictions imposed on them after the stabbing.
Sources close to Hamas said that the issue of the prisoners was discussed during a meeting between senior Hamas officials and United Nations Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov in Gaza City on Monday. The Hamas officials warned during the meeting that the Israeli measures against the prisoners would have “grave repercussions,” the sources said.
According to the sources, Hamas has also asked Egypt and Qatar to intervene with Israel to cancel the measures against the inmates.
In addition, Hamas denied that the understandings reached between the Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip and Israel also include a prisoner exchange for two Israeli citizens and the remains of two Israeli soldiers killed in 2014.
Ismail Radwan, a senior Hamas official in the Gaza Strip, said that his movement was discussing with the Egyptians ways of ending Israeli “violations” against the prisoners. He also denied that the understandings talk about a long-term ceasefire with Israel. The current talks, he said, were about finding ways to consolidate the truce understandings that were reached between the Palestinian factions and Israel after Operation Protective Edge in 2014.
According to an Israeli source, the cabinet has yet to vote on any understanding or agreement with Hamas.
Far Right cabinet members, Education Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked have called for such a meeting, with Bennett turning to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit on the matter.
Shaked told Army Radio on Tuesday morning that no ceasefire deal could be reached with Hamas without the release of the Israeli captives. She added that she and Bennett also opposed humanitarian gestures until their return.
Mladenov in a statement he issued on Tuesday said that the UN had been working with Egypt and “all concerned parties” to avoid an escalation of violence between Hamas and Israel, and to relieve the humanitarian suffering of people in Gaza.
“I welcome the efforts of all sides to do their utmost to avoid escalation and any further unnecessary bloodshed and destruction,” Mladenov said.
Since September, he said, $110 million has been raised for programs endorsed by the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee in the areas of health, water sanitation and employment as well as for fuel. This includes a plan for 20,000 jobs, he explained, and a monitoring framework for the distribution of medical supplies and drugs in Gaza.
Mladenov added that construction would likely begin soon on the Gaza Central Desalination plant. The only resolution to the Gaza crisis is political, he said, as he called on Fatah and Hamas to set aside its better rivalry.
Hamas ousted Fatah from the Gaza Strip in a bloody coup in 2007. Fatah during the last two years has increased its efforts to regain political control of Gaza, which is home to two million Palestinians.
“I call on all Palestinian factions to engage in earnest with Egypt on reconciliation efforts,” Mladenov said. “I reiterate that there can be no state in Gaza, and there can be no state without Gaza. Ultimately, only sustainable political solutions will reverse the current negative trajectory and restore hope to Gaza’s long-suffering population.”
Leah Goldin, the mother of IDF soldier Lt. Hadar Goldin who was captured and killed in Gaza, slammed Bennett and the government for still not retrieving her son’s body.
Bennett “is campaigning on the blood of our sons,” Goldin said in an interview on Channel 10 on Tuesday, in response to reports of a potential truce with Hamas that would include a prisoner exchange. “Where has he been for the past four years?”
“When we learn about it from media reports it means that there is no agreement to bring the boys home, and once again the government missed an opportunity,” the Goldin family said in response to the possible prisoner exchange.
“Prime Minister and Defense Minister [Benjamin] Netanyahu must explain why he violated the promise he made to the families that there would be no series of negotiations with Hamas without the return of our sons,” Leah Goldin said.
“We always demand the return of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, but it takes time,” Aliyah and Integration Minister Yoav Gallant said on Army Radio in response to Goldin’s interview.
Shaul and Goldin were captured and killed by Hamas during Operation Protective Edge in 2014. Their bodies were never returned to Israel. The families have continually protested and begged the government to bring the bodies back home.
Hamas is also holding two Israelis captive. Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed suffer from mental illness and are believed to have walked accidentally into Gaza.
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