Palestinians Threaten Weekend Violence if Gaza Cash, Electricity Not Resolved

Organizers say factions agree to return to airborne firebombs, mass gatherings near border fence ■ Ultimatum comes after tense weekend that saw three Palestinians killed and skirmishes across the border

Jack Khoury
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A Palestinian hurls stones toward Israeli troops by the Israeli border with Gaza Strip, May 15, 2019
A Palestinian hurls stones toward Israeli troops by the Israeli border with Gaza Strip, May 15, 2019Credit: Muhammed Dahman,AP
Jack Khoury

Palestinian factions in Gaza have relayed an ultimatum to Israel warning of an escalation on the border if Israel does not fulfill its commitments, a Hamas source told Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Tuesday.

According to the report, the Palestinian demands include a Qatari cash infusion to the Strip and a resolution to the electricity shortage.

Haaretz Weekly Ep. 35

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Though the source did not specify what the "escalation" would entail, Talal Abu-Zarifeh, a member of the March of Return organizing committee, said the factions have agreed in principle to return to airborne firebombs, nightly activity along the border fence and mass crowds approaching the border.

On Monday, Palestinian factions in Gaza warned Israel that the Strip is "a volcano that is about to erupt" and that "Israel is continuing to play with fire."

In a joint statement, the factions described the recent attempts by armed Palestinians to cross the border as a testament to the volatile situation. "The occupation's crimes against the Palestinian people and the holy sites will not go unanswered," the statement said, referring also to recent clashes on Jerusalem's Temple Mount.

>> Read more: Escalating incidents on Gaza-Israel border indicate Hamas is losing its grip | Analysis

Recent escalation on the Israel-Gaza border.Credit: AFP

The factions called on Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank to "set ablaze the ground under the Zionists' feet."

On Saturday, three Palestinians were killed by Israeli army fire on the border fence in the northern Strip, the Gazan health ministry reported.

The incident came hours after three Gaza rockets were launched at Israel. Two were intercepted by the Iron Dome missile defense system.

Reports in Gaza say Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi will arrive in the Strip on Thursday through Erez Crossing. According to Palestinian sources, Al-Emadi will meet with Hamas leaders and hold meetings both to advance infrastructure projects as well as payments to needy families.

Hamas losing grip

Haaretz's Amos Harel wrote on Sunday that escalating incidents on the Gaza-Israel border indicate that Hamas is losing its grip. According to Harel, most of the young men who have tried to cross the Gaza border fence into Israel in recent weeks were in the past associated with Hamas or Islamic Jihad. Some left those groups and moved closer to the extremist Salafi groups active in the Gaza Strip. Others have not officially left the mainstream organizations.

Their attacks apparently reflect frustration over Hamas for distancing itself from violent confrontations with Israel, along with criticism over the scant accomplishments that agreement to keep things quiet has provided to Gaza residents.