Israel would be willing to grant Gaza economic concessions and ease its blockade of the territory if a long-term ceasefire with Hamas could be reached, but were also “serious” about launching a “major military strike” if militants continue rocket attacks into Israel, Lebanon’s al-Akhbar newspaper has reported, citing a Hamas source said to be familiar with negotiations between the group and officials from Egyptian intelligence.
Hamas negotiators reportedly responded that the group was “not afraid” of Israeli threats, but promised to pass the details of the Egyptian proposal on to their leadership.
The group also insisted that rocket attacks were the result of the Israeli side’s actions, including recent sanctions against fuel supplies for the territory’s sole power plant, and the Israeli military’s ongoing air attacks into the territory.
According to the report, Israel would be willing to restore fuel supplies to Gaza to their original capacity if Hamas agreed to a ceasefire.
Al-Akhbar noted that discussions also focused on Hamas’ relations with Egypt, including the prospects for increased movement of goods and people through the Rafah border crossing, the sole legal border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip.
The newspaper’s source also denied earlier reports that Egypt was considering the suspension of its mediation efforts between Hamas and Israel.
On Friday, The Jerusalem Post reported, citing the Israeli military, that six fuel trucks paid for by Qatar had crossed into Gaza from Israel through the Kerem Shalom border crossing.
On Thursday, the Israeli military confirmed that it had launched airstrikes against a suspected Hamas outpost in northern Gaza, saying the strikes were a response to a rocket attack launched toward Israeli territory. On Tuesday, Gaza was hit by multiple explosions, leading to a state of emergency across the territory of 1.85 million inhabitants.
Hamas has been in control of Gaza for over a decade following a conflict with rival Palestinian political party Fatah, which led to a split of the Palestinian Authority in 2007. Tel Aviv has blamed the group for escalating tensions in recent years.
Israel and Hamas were on the brink of war in May, after militants launched hundreds of rockets toward southern Israel, while Israel launched airstrikes at numerous targets in the territory. The back and forth attacks left at least 25 Palestinians and four Israelis dead. Egyptian mediators facilitated a ceasefire on May 6.
Over the last year and a half, hundreds of Palestinian protesters and at least one Israeli soldier have been killed in ongoing protests at the border between Israel and Gaza which began in March 2018.