Hamas Chief Outlines Conditions for Cease-fire with Israel
In a rare – and candid – briefing to foreign media, Hamas chief Ismael Haniyeh claimed that two industrial zones, a new power line and a hospital would be built in the Gaza Strip in accordance with a recent cease-fire agreement reached with Israel that ended over a year of on-again, off-again fighting. Haniyeh nevertheless blamed Israel for not adhering to the understandings, citing as an example the recent closure of fishing zones off the enclave’s coast. That decision, however, was taken after a wave of “terror” balloons (namely, airborne objects with flammable or explosive materials attached to them) flown from Gaza caused wildfires to break out in southern Israel. In May, Hamas and other terror groups, including Iranian proxy Islamic Jihad, fired some 700 projectiles at Israel over a span of 48 hours, killing four civilians. Israel responded with its largest air campaign in Gaza since the 50-day war in 2014, striking hundreds of targets and killing at least 21 Palestinians. The ensuing cease-fire agreement was mediated by the United Nations, Egypt and Qatar, which continues to funnel tens of millions of dollars into the enclave that are ostensibly earmarked for development projects. A portion of the funds are also disbursed to impoverished Palestinian families. For its part, Israel blames Hamas for the humanitarian situation in the territory, arguing that the terror organization diverts the funds it receives into its war coffers.