Tensions along Israel’s southern border with Hamas-controlled Gaza were ratcheted up earlier this month, after Washington announced that Israel and the UAE had agreed to normalize relations. Hamas called Abu Dhabi’s decision a “cowardly” attack on the Palestinians’ “national, historical and religious rights.”
Hamas reserves the right to “remove the siege” against Gaza in any way necessary should blockade negotiations fail, including by raining rockets down on Israel, Mushir al-Masri, a spokesman for the political and militant group, has said.
“If the negotiation efforts fail, it will mean that the Zionist enemy will experience a siege in the heart of the bomb shelters,” al-Masri said, his comments cited by Israel’s Channel 7.
“Since we have nothing to lose, we will not accept the continuation of the siege, the force, and the enemy’s attempt to use the coronavirus plague to renew the siege on the Palestinian nation. All options are open,” the spokesman added.
Israeli tanks targeted Hamas positions on Monday due to the continued launching of incendiary balloons from Gaza toward Israel’s southern border. On Friday morning, Israeli jets struck Hamas positions in the Palestinian exclave, citing the launch of six rockets toward Israel. Also this month, the IAF launched separate airstrikes into Lebanon against Hezbollah, and at suspected ‘pro-Iranian’ targets in neighbouring Syria.
Hamas Wants Restrictions Removed
On Saturday, Ismail Haniyeh, chief of Hamas’s political bureau, announced that Gaza would “proceed with ending” the “unjust blockade” against Gaza “in all its forms,” and expressed hope in talks with Israel mediated by Egypt and Qatar. Haniyeh also called on the United Nations to show solidarity with Gazans and to “force Israel to end the suffering” of the enclave.
Hamas and other militant groups present in Gaza have called on Israel to completely remove its economic blockade of the enclave before agreeing to a de-escalation deal. Israel has expressed readiness to remove some economic restrictions and to allow for the delivery of humanitarian aid in exchange for a halt to the launching of makeshift projectiles into Israel.
According to the Jerusalem Post, Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi met with Israeli security officials on Saturday to try to douse the escalating conflict between Israel and Hamas.
Tensions between Gaza and Tel Aviv escalated after the announcement of the peace deal between Israel and the UAE in mid-August, with Palestinian leaders calling it a “betrayal” of Arab countries and the Palestinian cause.