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Ongoing Israeli-Qatari Negotiations amid Escalation by Hamas

Ongoing Israeli-Qatari Negotiations amid Escalation by Hamas

Thursday, 13 August, 2020 - 11:45
An Israeli firefighter attempts to extinguish a fire caused by a incendiary balloon launched by Palestinians from the Gaza Strip, on the Israeli side of the border between Israel and Gaza, near Or HaNer Kibbutz, Wednesday, Aug. 12, 2020.

The Israeli Mossad got involved in the Gaza Strip crisis for the second time in months, asking Qatar to keep sending money to the Strip and defuse the current escalation.

The official Israeli Public Broadcasting Corporation (Kan) reported that the head of the Mossad, Yossi Cohen, held talks with senior officials in Qatar in light of the recent escalation in the Strip, to make sure that Qatar continues to send money to the Strip, which was supposed to end next month.

According to Kan, Cohen pushed for the Qataris to continue transferring money after September, the date at which the Qatari grant should end, which had previously been extended several months after another Mossad intervention. The Mossad has contributed to Qatari’s transferring of funds to the Gaza Strip since the beginning of the crisis, to maintain calm in the "south."

The Hebrew website Ynetnews reported that a private Israeli plane took off on Sunday morning from Ben Gurion Airport in central Israel, and after a stop in Jordan, made its way to the Qatari capital, Doha. It landed at 16:00 and stayed there for 24 hours before returning to Israel. The website said that the identity of the plane, its passengers, and the reasons for its visit to Qatar have not been confirmed. Mohammed Al-Emadi, head of the Qatari Committee for the Reconstruction of Gaza, acknowledged that there had been on-going negotiations.

Al-Emadi, who is usually responsible for transferring funds to Hamas, said that bringing aid to the Gaza Strip is challenging and difficult. In statements to the Qatar News Agency (QNA), he pointed out that the contact with the Israeli authorities is not new. Rather, it comes within the framework of facilitating the transfer of aid to the Strip.

Al-Emadi said: “The aid of the State of Qatar to our brothers in the Gaza Strip aims to alleviate the effects of the blockade imposed on the Strip.”

On Wednesday, Hamas intensified its incendiary balloon attacks, and large fires broke out in the settlements around the Strip. The wave of balloons came after the Israeli warplanes launched attacks. Israeli army statement said that the raids on Gaza were carried out "in response to balloons carrying explosive materials launched from the Gaza Strip into Israeli areas during the past week."

The statement also stressed that Hamas bears responsibility for all attacks on Israeli targets and citizens launched from Gaza.

As part of the effort to confront incendiary balloons, the Israeli army deployed a system called "Lahav Or (light blade), which is a laser system capable of countering these balloons, and it will be used consistently.

So far, Israel has avoided escalations that could lead to full-blown confrontation.

Meanwhile, Haaretz said that the military and security establishment is trying to avoid making a harsh military response that could lead to further escalation in the region and prefers to provide an opportunity for mediators, such as Qatar and European countries, to quell tensions. Hamas is also avoiding a new war.

Hamas, through the policy of gradual escalation, wishes to send a message to Israel that the situation may deteriorate if it does not commit to the terms of the truce agreement, including the persistence of funding from Qatar.

Hamas also conveyed, through mediators, a message to Israel calling for accelerating the process of initiating projects and creating job opportunities for the population, and Israel responded by saying: “The reason for the delay in these projects is the lack of international support for them in light of the coronavirus crisis.”

Many mediators intervened to quell tensions; the most influential amongst them Egypt, the sponsor of the truce agreement.

Ismail Radwan, a Hamas leader, said that his movement is in constant contact with Egypt to coordinate efforts that would require the occupation to lift the siege imposed on Gaza.

Radwan accused Israel of using evading measures to lift the siege, warning of the consequences of continuing the escalation.

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