A Qatari-brokered truce commits Israel to easing its 13-year-old blockade of the Palestinian territory
Mon 31 Aug 2020 15.57 EDT
Gaza’s Islamist rulers Hamas have announced they have reached a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel to end more than three weeks of cross-border exchanges of fire.
After talks with Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi, “an understanding was reached to rein in the latest escalation and end [Israeli] aggression against our people,” said the office of the Palestinian territory’s Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.
In the latest escalation, Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since 6 August, in response to airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border.
The fire bombs – crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags – have triggered more than 400 blazes and damaged swathes of farmland in southern Israel, according to the fire brigade.
An Egyptian delegation had been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year-old blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the border.
It was joined by Al-Emadi, who also held talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.
A Hamas source said there had been “a total halt” to balloon and other attacks against Israel, in agreement with other factions in the coastal strip, home to some 2 million people.
“Fuel supplies will return and the power station will be restarted from Tuesday,” the source said.
A punitive Israeli-imposed ban on fuel deliveries cut electricity supplies to just four hours a day, supplied from the Israeli grid.
Financial aid from gas-rich Qatar has been a major component of a truce first agreed in November 2018 and renewed several times since.
Israel had also agreed to take other steps to alleviate unemployment of more than 50% in Gaza, but disagreements over implementation have fuelled repeated flare-ups.
These escalated into full-blown conflict in 2008, 2012 and 2014, and mediators have been working to prevent a new war.