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Israel blocks fuel supplies to Gaza

August 03, 2018

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JERUSALEM/RAMALLAH: Israel on Thursday blocked supplies of fuel and gas to the Gaza Strip in response to the continued sending of incendiary kites across the border, Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman said.

The measure will affect the Palestinian enclave which already suffers power cuts, especially for hospitals.

Lieberman said in a statement that the crackdown was in response to “the pursuit of terrorism” using incendiary balloons and border clashes between Israel and Gaza.

Egypt trying to broker broad Israel-Hamas truce

Egypt is trying to broker a broad ceasefire deal between Israel and Gaza’s Hamas rulers that is to pave the way for Gaza’s reconstruction and an eventual prisoner swap, senior Hamas officials said on Thursday.

Repeated ceasefire deals over the years collapsed, but there were signs of possible momentum toward a new agreement, after weeks of escalation along the Gaza-Israel frontier.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu decided to put off a trip to South America to keep an eye on the situation in Gaza, a government official said on Thursday. Israeli media reported Netanyahu is to convene his security cabinet on Sunday to discuss developments.

Separately, a high-level Hamas delegation planned to enter Gaza later on Thursday after holding talks in Cairo, said the Palestine Information Centre, a Hamas-linked website.

Most of the Hamas leadership is based in Gaza but would be joined by exiled members of the group’s political bureau, including Saleh Arouri, a founder of the Hamas military wing in the West Bank and a mastermind of violent attacks against Israelis in the past.

“Permitting a delegation with this level to come to Gaza is a clear sign that there are first of all guarantees that the delegation will not be targeted by the Israelis, and a sign that there are serious meetings to be held in Gaza,” said Bassem Naim, a Gaza-based Hamas official. He said Hamas officials would try to “conclude the progress that has been made on files such as the truce,” as well as a UN-led rebuilding of Gaza and possible reconciliation between Hamas and its domestic political rival, West Bank-based Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas.

Naim said the Hamas leaders would also talk about a possible prisoner swap with Israel. Two other senior Hamas officials confirmed the outlines of the deal proposed by Egypt. It’s not clear what role Abbas would play in Gaza, if any. He has said in the past that he would only resume responsibility for Gaza if Hamas agrees to hand over all authority there, including over security. Hamas has been unwilling to do so.

Gaza has endured a crippling border blockade by Israel and Egypt, imposed after Hamas seized the territory in 2007. In recent months, Hamas has become more desperate amid mounting financial pressure, including from Abbas. Gaza’s 2 million people have had to contend with blockade-linked electricity shortages, rising unemployment and growing poverty.

Published in Dawn, August 3rd, 2018