Senior member of terror group says deal to include exchange of bodies, five-year ceasefire, opening of Gaza crossings and building of Sinai airport
(This article is reprinted with permission from the Times of Israel website)
A senior Hamas member signaled the terror group was optimistic regarding efforts to broker a ceasefire with Israel Tuesday, saying talks on an agreement would likely wrap up by the end of August.
In addition to the United Nations and Egypt, the Hamas official told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency that Qatar and Turkey are also helping to oversee the talks.
According to the unnamed Hamas member, the deal would see the permanent opening of the Rafah border crossing between the Gaza Strip and Egypt and an easing of strictures on the flow of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing with Israel.
Additionally, sea and air terminals meant to facilitate the flow of goods to and from Gaza would be established in the Sinai Peninsula.
The agreement would also likely include a five-year ceasefire between Israel and Hamas, the official said, as well as the return of two Israeli civilians and the remains of two soldiers killed in 2014 being held in the Strip.
Furthermore, the deal would require the complete cessation of the launching of incendiary airborne devices from Gaza toward Israeli territory, according to the Hamas member. Tuesday saw 10 fires break out in the border region from suspected arson attacks from Gaza, the latest of hundreds of such attacks to wreak havoc on Israel’s south and burn thousands of acres since April.
The comments by the Hamas official came after the terror group’s leaders wrapped up deliberations in Gaza earlier Tuesday on a UN-led ceasefire proposal.
“The Hamas leadership delegation that arrived in Gaza last Thursday will return to the Egyptian capital Cairo bearing the vision of the movement regarding all files that were discussed,” Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh told a meeting of Palestinian politicians in Gaza.
The Israeli government will also discuss the proposal at a special cabinet meeting on Thursday.
UN Middle East peace envoy Nickolay Mladenov, who has been involved in the talks, said on Twitter Tuesday he held a “constructive” meeting with Qatari Foreign Minister Mohammed bin Abdulrahman Al Thani on Gaza.
Senior Hamas officials based in Arab and Islamic countries who entered Gaza last week have been seeking the approval of other Palestinian factions for the ceasefire agreement with Israel, Palestinian sources said Monday. The group’s armed wing is opposed to a truce.
Hamas leaders were also considering proposals for a reconciliation deal with the West Bank-based Palestinian Authority under which the PA would take control of the Gaza Strip under the auspices of Egypt.
“The delegation will return Cairo bearing the vision of the movement regarding reconciliation, breaking the siege, talk about a ceasefire, confronting the occupation’s acts of aggression and the rebuilding of the Palestinian scene on national foundations,” Haniyeh said.
Hamas an Islamist terror group that seeks Israel’s destruction, seized control of Gaza in 2007, and pushed out the Fatah faction of PA president Mahmoud Abbas.
The deputy head of Hamas’s politburo, Saleh al-Arouri, is expected to head the delegation to Cairo.
The marathon meeting of Hamas leaders ended a day after Israeli political and military brass huddled for several hours to discuss a detente, but did not release any concrete decisions.
Following the meeting, a statement from the cabinet said, “the IDF is prepared for any scenario.” It gave no indication if any decision on a truce had been made.
Earlier on Tuesday, two Hamas fighters were reported killed by Israel in a Hamas post in Gaza. The IDF said the two opened fire on IDF soldiers patrolling the Gaza Strip border. Hamas disputed the Israeli version and said the two were taking part in a naval commando drill.
Hamas threatened to avenge their deaths and warned Israel that it would pay for the attack. “The resistance cannot allow the occupation to impose a policy of bombing sites and targeting fighters without paying the price,” it said in a statement.