Anonymous sources told London newspaper Al-Araby Al-Jadeed that under the new government, headed by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, the delegation will bring “new developments” to pass on to Hamas and other Gaza-based terrorist groups. , through the Egyptian mediators.
The sources said the developments concerned Israel’s stance on rebuilding Gaza after the May series of fighting and the demand for the release of Israeli captives held by Hamas.
Hamas has so far insisted on separating the prisoner negotiations from any discussion of a possible long-term truce or the reconstruction of the Gaza Strip, while Israel has linked the prisoner exchange request to any other negotiation.
Two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israel Defense Forces soldiers are currently being held in Gaza. Avraham Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed entered the Strip of their own accord and their families say they suffer from mental illness. Hamas also holds the bodies of Oren Shaul and Hadar Goldin, two IDF soldiers who were killed in the Strip during the Gaza war in 2014.
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The report came a day after Israel eased some restrictions on the flow of goods to and from Gaza, as well as the reopening of the Strip’s fishing zone, after days of calm along the border. . Israel had severely restricted the entry of goods into the enclave after the 11-day conflict last month.
Clockwise from top left: Oron Shaul, Avera Mengistu, Hadar Goldin and Hisham al-Sayed (Flash 90 / Courtesy)
But Defense Minister Benny Gantz reiterated this week that Israel will not allow large-scale reconstruction of Gaza unless Hamas returns the captives and the bodies of IDF soldiers.
“Operation Guardian of the Walls has ended, but it is not over,” Gantz said in a speech Thursday at a graduation ceremony for Israeli Air Force pilots , using Israel’s name for last month’s fighting in the Strip.
“The Hamas terrorist group in Gaza must understand: we are determined. If Hamas wants reconstruction and economic development, now is the time to take concrete steps to maintain calm, stop rearmament and send the boys home, ”he said.
The remarks came a day after Gantz met with UN envoy for Middle East peace Tor Wennesland, stressing “the need to maintain calm and work to return captives and missing Israelis to the Gaza Strip, ”according to a statement from the office of the Minister of Defense. .
Wennesland met on Monday Yahya Sinwar, the leader of Hamas in the Strip, who said their talks to strengthen the ceasefire between Israel and the ruling terror group in Gaza, which openly seeks to destroy the Jewish state, went badly.
“It was a bad meeting. It was not at all positive, ”Sinwar told reporters after the meeting. “It seems that the occupation has not received the message from our people,” he added, referring to Israel.
Hamas officials have also threatened to resume rocket attacks if Israel seeks to impose a new status quo on Gaza after the recent fighting, after some Israeli officials called for a tougher response to the terror group, including renewal. assassinations of Hamas leaders.
Aaron Boxerman and Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.