Israel Agreed to Ease Restrictions on Gaza to Promote Cease-fire, Senior Islamic Jihad Official Says

Deputy chief of the group reveals details of understandings reached between Israel and Palestinian factions, claims that Egypt also made promises to help Strip resolve crisis and to vouch for Israel in potential deal

Palestinians waiting outside the Rafah crossing between Israel and the Strip.
Wissam Nassar / dpa Picture-Alli

Islamic Jihad's deputy chief Ziyad al-Nakhalah revealed on Monday part of the understandings that were reached between Israel and Palestinian factions, namely Hamas, regarding an emerging cease-fire.

Al-Nakhalah, who attended talks that the different Palestinian factions held in Cairo over the past several days, stated that Egypt has told Palestinian representatives that funding for humanitarian projects in Gaza is available, especially for ones dealing with the shortage in water and electricity in the Strip.

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Al-Nakhalah said that Israel has agreed to significantly ease restrictions in the different passages into the Strip and will agree to have further construction materials passed into Gaza as well as extend the area in which Gaza fishermen are allowed to work along the Strip's beaches.

Al-Nakhalah claims that Israel didn't make any guarantees, but that these are all moves that Jerusalem presented to Cairo as commitments it was willing to undertake in order to secure the current calm. Egypt, in turn, will vouch for Israel that it will, indeed, ease different restrictions it imposes on Gaza.

According to al-Nakhalah, Egypt has promised to considerably upgrade the Rafah crossing in the beginning of the September, including the tripling of the number of pedestrians allowed through the crossing, the extension of operating hours and an overall improvement in the services offered.

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The Islamic Jihad official says that the different factions have reached an understanding concerning a cease-fire, which can remain intact as long as Egypt follows through on promises to improve the humanitarian situation and living conditions in Gaza.

Nonetheless, Khaled al-Batsh, the Islamic Jihad member in charge of foreign relations, called on Gazans to continue demonstrating along the border with Israel. Al-Batsh said that an extensive cease-fire agreement is still not on the agenda, and the so-called "peace will be met with peace" agreement between Israel and the Palestinians is the only one currently intact.

Speaking to Lebanese television channel Al Mayadeen, al-Batsh said:  "We must not fall for trap of UN promises regarding the cease-fire and the promotion of projects to save the Strip. We haven't seen results yet so we must be prepared for all scenarios possible."

Palestinian faction leaders, and Hamas among them, came back this weekend from a round of talks that lasted several days. They agreed to resume talks at the end of the Eid al-Adha holiday, also known as the "Festival of Sacrifice." Eid al-Adha begins Monday evening and will end this weekend.

During the talks, members of different factions had a disagreement after representatives of the National Front and other smaller organizations insisted that the Palestinian Authority be included in a final cease-fire agreement.

Earlier Monday, Haaretz reported that a delegation of senior Fatah members is expected to set out to Cairo next week to discuss intra-Palestinian reconciliation.