Egypt Urges Hamas Officials to Quell Tensions Ahead of Monday's Mass Gaza Protest

Egypt attempting to convey messages from Israel, sources close to Hamas say. The group has sent over 100,000 text messages to encourage residents to participate in mass protests

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh smiles after delivering a speech in Gaza City April 30, 2018.
\ MOHAMMED SALEM/ REUTERS

Senior officials in Hamas, including politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh, departed on Sunday for Cairo at the request of Egyptian intelligence. According to sources close to Hamas in the Gaza Strip, Egypt is attempting to lower tensions ahead of mass protests the group has planned for the next two days, and is conveying messages from Israel on the matter. Egypt is furthermore attempting to advance the process of reconciliation between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority.

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Gaza continues to prepare for the demonstrations planned for Monday and Tuesday over the opening of the American embassy in Jerusalem and Nakba Day.  Haaretz has learned that Hamas has over the past few days sent over 100,000 text messages to members and Gaza residents encouraging them to take part in protests near the border fence and to hold large processions in the West Bank that will march toward checkpoints.

Meanwhile, the Higher Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel – an umbrella organization representing Arab Israelis at the national level – plans on Monday to demonstrate in Jerusalem against the U.S. decision to move its embassy there. Palestinians from East Jerusalem are to participate in the demonstration.

>> Analysis: Israel braces for incendiary week in Gaza, West Bank as tensions with Iran expected to ease  Jerusalem Embassy, Gaza, Nakba: All you need to know about Israel’s roller-coaster week  ■ Analysis: As Nakba Day approaches, Israel looks to Palestinian Authority to prevent total anarchy

"We will raise our voice against U.S. policy, which backs the Israeli government's occupation and settlements and the elimination of the possibility of establishing a Palestinian state with East Jerusalem as its capital within 1967 borders," the committee's chairman, Mohammad Barakeh, said. "This brutal American step and the entire 'deal of the century' will not erase the Palestinian people's right to self-determination, which is by right and not by the benevolence of Israel or the U.S."

On Saturday, a 15-year-old Palestinian died after being shot during protests near the Gaza border fence. Also Saturday, a 40-year-old man was killed by IDF fire east of the Gaza Strip city of Khan Yunis. The Israel Air Force earlier destroyed a tunnel near the Erez Crossing at the Gaza border. The military believes that the tunnel was supposed to the Israeli communities of Nativ Ha'asara and Kibbutz Erez and said it was the ninth tunnel destroyed by security forces so far.