Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures during a rally marking the 31st anniversary of Hamas' founding, in Gaza City December 16, 2018.
(photo credit: IBRAHEEM ABU MUSTAFA / REUTERS)
Israel and Hamas have denied reports that a Gaza ceasefire understanding had been reached that would ensure six-months of calm.
Channel 12 news on Monday night reported that a truce had been reached, sparking a chain of Israeli political reactions and diplomatic denials.
According to the report, Hamas agreed to end clashes with IDF forces along the Gaza border, with Palestinian rioters keeping to a 300 meter distance from the border.
Hamas also agreed to end its night raids against IDF units along Israel’s southern border. During those six months, no new flotillas would be launched in an attempt to break Israel’s maritime blockade of Gaza, Channel 12 reported.
Israel agreed to widen the Gaza fishing zone to 15 nautical miles and to ensure the uninterrupted transfer of medicines and other forms of civic aid to Gaza residents, the report said.
Talks would be held on the Gaza crossings, electricity, health services and financial assistance. In addition, Israel will promote UN funded projects.
If calm is held for six month, the report stated, then work could proceed on a more permanent ceasefire that would include the return of the bodies of two IDF soldiers and the release of two Israeli civilians held in Gaza.
All efforts toward either an informal or a formal ceasefire have been brokered by Egypt with the help of the United Nations. Nickolay Mladenov, the UN Special Coordinator to the Middle East Peace Process, had no comment on the report.
In the past, informal ceasefire understandings have rarely been publicly acknowledged and have been measured only by the absence of violence. Earlier this month, a severe outbreak of Israel-Hamas violence caused the death of four Israeli civilians and almost led to a full-on outbreak of war.
Palestinians and Israelis objected to the reports of an informal ceasefire.
The organizers of the weekly Palestinian Friday border protests pledged: “we will continue with the Friday marches until the siege is removed and the rights of our people restored.”
Representatives of the Eshkol Regional Council, in turn, said that from their perspective, a ceasefire includes a complete cessation of incendiary balloons, terror attacks on the security fence, and the sporadic fire to which they are subjected.
MK Amir Peretz from the Labor Party said that a deal with Hamas that does not include the return of the remains of IDF soldiers Oron Shaul and Hadar Goldin for burial in Israel, as well as living Israelis held captive by the terrorist group, is an ongoing assault on “IDF values and the alliance [the state has] with families.”
Goldin’s parents, Lea and Simcha, said that the “deal with Hamas is misleading the families, who have been waiting for almost five years for their sons to be returned from the battlefield.”
Palestinian reporter Iiad El-Kara suggested that the ceasefire is “fake news,” claiming that, “this is part of the conniving means used by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman.”
Former Yesh Atid MK Haim Yalin said: “I don’t believe a single word of Hamas,” noting that, at this time, Israel has had 12 ceasefire understandings with Hamas and that Hamas broke all of them.
The far-right Otzma Yehudit Party issued a press release saying that this is a “humiliating treaty of surrender” and that “Hamas is dictating to the State of Israel what is on the agenda, and brings the Israeli government to its knees time and time again.”
MK Yoaz Hendel of Blue and White responded to the news, saying that in the Middle East, “agreements with terrorists are not worth the paper on which they are signed.”
Maariv contributed to this report.
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