Israel, Hamas Agree on Extended Calm on Gaza Border

Israeli security official agreement includes renewal of fuel supply and expansion of fishing zone in Gaza, in exchange for 'Hamas halting violence'

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Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration along the fence east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip, June 26, 2019.
Palestinian protesters run during clashes with Israeli forces following a demonstration along the fence east of Khan Yunis in the southern Gaza strip, June 26, 2019.Credit: Said Khatib/AFP

Israel and Hamas have reached understanding on an extended calm along the Gaza border, UN sources told a Palestinian media outlet on Friday.

An Israeli security official confirmed to Haaretz that Israel would allow the delivery of fuel and expand the fishing zone in Gaza, in exchange for "Hamas halting violence." The source added that "sanctions will be reimposed if Hamas fails to honor the agreement."

According to the report on Sawa news agency, the agreements brokered by United Nations and Egyptian mediators include the renewal of fuel supply to the Gaza Strip, halted by Israel earlier this week.

The report also states that Israel would extend the zone allowed for fishing around the Gaza Strip to 15 nautical miles, up from the current 10, and return dozens of fishing boats it confiscated.

>> Read more: A young Gazan’s dream, amputated | Gideon Levy

Hamas, on its part, would commit to prevent the launch of airborne firebombs into Israeli territory and ensure protesters who take part in this week's Friday protest along the border maintain a nonviolent demonstration. Israel, according to the report, said it wouldn't use live fire against protesters.

Despite this, the Eshkol Regional Council's spokesperson said an incendiary balloon was found in a field, as well as a batch of a balloons with a Hebrew-language erotic novel attached to it that was rigged with explosives. Security forces defused the charge.

The Israeli army said on Tuesday it would halt all fuel deliveries through the Kerem Shalom crossing. A statement by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories said the reason was the launching of airborne firebombs from the Gaza Strip into Israel, which sparked fires in neighboring Israeli communities.

Two weeks ago, Israel imposed a total maritime blockade on the Strip, which lasted one week. Israel has been tailoring restrictions on the size of Gaza’s fishing zone in which Israel allows fishermen to operate, in response to incidents along the border.

Last week, Hamas leader in Gaza, Ismail Haniyeh, warned that Israel's "foot dragging" in implementing understandings for calm in the coastal enclave could threaten the continuation of that calm.

At a meeting with foreign journalists in Gaza, he said Hamas had worked hard to achieve these understandings, which were reached under the auspices of the United Nations and Qatar. But so far, he added, the Palestinians in Gaza haven’t felt those understandings materialize, which puts them “in the danger zone.”

Haniyeh said Israel has failed to allow freedom of movement through the border crossings and conducted “a policy of extortion” via its frequent reductions of Gaza’s permitted fishing zone. Israel is also delaying implementation of electricity and job-creation projects, while severely restricting the flow of money into Gaza, he said.

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