Israel keeps up Gaza strikes after Qatar joins mediation bid

Israel keeps up Gaza strikes after Qatar joins mediation bid

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Gaza City: The military said on Wednesday that Israeli warplanes shot down Hamas targets in Gaza overnight, even though the Qatari envoy joined the effort to facilitate the outbreak for nearly three weeks.

Since August 6, Israel has bombed Hamas-ruled enclaves almost every day in response to the launch of airborne combustion devices and rocket attacks across the border.

Bombs, crude equipment installed on balloons, and inflated condoms or plastic bags caused a large number of fires in southern Israel, severely damaging crops.

“During the day, explosive and arson balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel,” the Israeli military said.

“In response … fighter jets and (other) aircraft struck an underground infrastructure belonging to the Hamas terror organisation in the southern Gaza Strip.”

It is widely believed that the use of balloons to improve the conditions of Hamas’s informal truce is Israel’s commitment to relax its 13-year blockade in exchange for peace on the border.

But so far, Israel’s response has been to strengthen the blockade. It has banned Gaza’s fishermen from going to sea and closed cargo transiting the territory, which prompted the closure of Gaza’s only power plant due to lack of fuel.

The Egyptian delegation has been shuttled between the two countries in an attempt to promote the continuation of the armistice, and on Tuesday night, Qatar and Gaza’s special envoy Mohamed Amadi entered the territory to participate in mediation work.

According to sources in Gaza, he set off for Tel Aviv on Wednesday night and held talks with Israeli representatives.

A source close to the Qatar delegation said that the Israelis told El-Emadi that they were willing to restore the fuel supply to the power plant and would ease the blockade if the fire balloon ended.

Multimillion-dollar financial aid from the gas-rich Gulf states strengthened the latest agreed ceasefire, which has been renewed several times.

A source close to the envoy said that he is providing $30 million in new funds for disbursements to poor families in impoverished enclaves.

Sources close to Hamas said it also hopes to take other measures to ease living conditions in the country where the unemployment rate exceeds 50%.

These measures include expanding the industrial zone in eastern Gaza, building new power lines, and increasing the number of Israeli work permits issued to Gaza once restrictions on the coronavirus are lifted.

On Monday, the Hamas authorities announced that they had confirmed four cases of the virus in a refugee camp in the Gaza Strip and blocked the entire territory for 48 hours.

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