Hamas: Israel Preparing to Advance Development Projects in Gaza
Hamas officials have told Arab media that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is set to advance Gaza Strip economic development and infrastructure projects he put on hold in the lead-up to Israel’s April 9 elections. According to other reports, diplomatic efforts by Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations mediators recently achieved long-elusive cease-fire understandings between Hamas and the Jewish state. They apparently entail an end to all violence emanating from the Hamas stronghold in exchange for loosened Israeli restrictions on goods entering the blockaded coastal enclave. Netanyahu has also reportedly agreed to promote humanitarian initiatives in the Gaza Strip, improve its electricity sector and build industrial zones along the Israel-Gaza border. Other stipulations include a resumption of Qatari cash transfers into the enclave and the creation by the UN of thousands of temporary jobs for Gazans. Presumably, the end to Palestinian violence means an official termination of the so-called March of Return protests along the frontier that, each week for over a year, have descended into clashes between Palestinians and Israeli security forces. The two sides were on the brink of war last November when Hamas launched some 500 projectiles at Israel in a 24-hour period. Since then, there have been intermittent flare-ups, perhaps most notably the “accidental” firing on two occasions of longer-range rockets from Gaza into central Israel.