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Yael Nisinbaum reacts after house near the Gaza border was struck by a rocket fired into Israel on May 4, 2019.(Photo by: AMIR COHEN/REUTERS)
Hamas reports 'progress' in carrying out ceasefire understandings
By KHALED ABU TOAMEH
05/12/2019
'Qatari funds will be delivered to Gaza this week'
Hamas said on Saturday that progress has been made toward implementing the Egyptian-brokered ceasefire understandings with Israel.

Hamas officials said they were “optimistic” regarding the prospects of the implementation of the understandings. Their optimism, they said, was based on discussions Hamas leaders held in the past 48 hours with Egyptian and United Nations mediators.

The officials said they expected the delivery of Qatari funds to the Gaza Strip as early as this week.

Hamas spokesman Abdel Latif al-Qanou said that his movement understands that Israel is ready and committed to immediately implement the ceasefire understandings.

“The Palestinians in the Gaza Strip will see positive changes in the next two days,” al-Qanou said in an apparent reference to the arrival of the long-awaited Qatari funds, which will be distributed among tens of thousands of Palestinian families in the Gaza Strip.

The spokesman said that Egyptian, UN and Qatari mediators have relayed messages to Hamas to the effect that Israel was ready to start implementing the understandings. The spokesman warned of a delay in carrying out the understandings and said that the Palestinian terror groups are ready to force Israel to commit to the understandings.

“Hamas and the factions are watching the actions of the occupation and we are in the process of assessing the situation on the ground,” al-Qanou said. Israel, he added, “has no choice but to implement the understandings.”

The Hamas official said he expected Egyptian intelligence officials to return to the Gaza Strip during this week to continue discussions with leaders of Palestinian factions on preserving the ceasefire understandings with Israel.

The Egyptian team – headed by Gen. Ahmed Abdel Khaleq, who is in charge of the “Palestinian portfolio” in the Egyptian General Intelligence Service – arrived unexpectedly in the Gaza Strip on Thursday evening and immediately met with the leaders of several Palestinian factions there.

The visit came hours after Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders left Cairo after holding discussions on ways of restoring ceasefire understandings that were reached with Israel earlier this year. The two groups have accused Israel of failing to carry out those understandings, especially regarding the entry of Qatari funds to the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

On Friday, Hamas said that its leader, Ismail Haniyeh, received a phone call from UN Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov and discussed with him the latest developments surrounding the ceasefire between Israel and the Palestinian factions.

Israel, meanwhile, continues to maintain silence about the terms of any understandings reached through Egypt and the United Nations with Hamas, with no Israeli official – from Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on down – having publicly acknowledged that a ceasefire was reached that put an end to the two days of fighting in Gaza last weekend.

Netanyahu said on a number of occasions last week that the campaign in Gaza has not ended, and that Israel was weighing its next steps with care and deliberation, while preparing for what will come next.

A Hamas official said that Mladenov also assured Haniyeh that the understandings would be implemented.

Over the weekend, Palestinian sources confirmed that Israel has lifted a ban on fishing boats off the Gaza Strip. The sources said that the fishing zone has again been expanded to 12 nautical miles in the southern Gaza Strip and six nautical miles in the north.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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