Hamas to Unilaterally Halt Attacks on Israel, Defense Official Says

All rockets and airborne explosive devices will stop, but Israeli defense officials 'skeptical' of the promise

Masked Palestinians prepare to release an incendiary device near Gaza's Bureij refugee camp, along the Israel-Gaza border fence, on February 10, 2020
AFP

Hamas has informed Israel that it intends to unilaterally halt the launching of explosive-laden balloons and rockets at Israel, an Israeli defense official said Thursday night.

“This coming night, and also this weekend, will serve as a test of this stability,” he said. “If the quiet is maintained, Israel will once again expand the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles.” It will also reinstate 500 permits for Gazan businessmen to enter Israel, he added.

Though Israel is “skeptical” of Hamas’ promise, the official continued, it plans to put it to the test in the hope that quiet will be restored to Israeli communities near the Gaza Strip. “What happens on the ground will be decisive,” he added.

Earlier this week, both Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said that Israel might launch a major military operation in Gaza in the near future. Netanyahu, speaking at Sunday’s cabinet meeting, said he won’t accept “any aggression from Gaza.

Netanyahu speaks at a press conference, November 20, 2019
Ohad Zwigenberg

“We’re prepared for a crushing operation against the terrorist organizations in Gaza,” he continued. “Our actions have been very powerful, and they aren’t over yet, to say the least.”

On Tuesday, in an interview with Channel 20 television, Netanyahu said Israel is preparing “the surprise of its life” for Hamas.

Bennett, speaking during a visit to the Gaza Division this week, said “Hamas leaders’ reckless behavior is bringing us closer to a lethal operation against them. We won’t say when and how.”

“This operation will be very different from its predecessors; no one will have immunity,” he added. “Hamas is facing a choice: It can choose life and economic prosperity, or it can choose terror and pay an unbearable price.”

Several rockets were fired at Israel from Gaza this week, though the most recent was on Tuesday. Explosive-laden balloons were still being launched as of Thursday, and several were found in Gaza-area communities that day, including in the city of Sderot.