(August 9, 2018 / Israel Hayom) Israel and Hamas will have a plan for a five-year truce in place by the end of August, a senior Hamas official told Turkey’s state-run Anadolu news agency on Tuesday.
The official said that under the terms of the truce, Hamas would release the bodies of fallen Israel Defense Forces soldiers Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, which it has held captive since the two were killed in “Operation Protective Edge” in the summer of 2014, as well as two Israeli civilians—Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed—who suffer from mental-health issues, and who have been held captive in Gaza since they crossed the border fence in 2014 and 2015, respectively.
A senior Israeli official recently told Israel Hayom that there would be no “understandings” with Hamas unless the Israeli captives and bodies of Israeli soldiers were released.
“Lest there be any doubt, the ongoing talks are focused on one goal: a ceasefire. A total ceasefire will lead Israel to reopen the Kerem Shalom crossing and reissue fishing permits [for Gazans]. No agreement is on the table that does not include the return of our captive citizens and fallen soldiers being held in Gaza,” the official said.
According to the Turkish report, the deal was mediated by the Egyptians in conjunction with U.N. Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov. The report said that the deal would take effect in the form of a two-week ceasefire, to be followed by the rest of the terms. The Palestinians will be expected to stop the violent protests along the Gaza border that Hamas has been spearheading since March, and will stop their campaign of remote arson attacks using burning balloons and kites released over the border fence in the direction of Israel.
The same report said that the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza would re-open and remain open permanently. Israel is also expected to remove the current restrictions on goods shipments at the Kerem Shalom crossing. In addition, a seaport and airport for the use of the Gaza Strip will be constructed in the Sinai Peninsula.
These terms, reported by Turkish sources, match a recent report in the Lebanese paper Al-Akhbar, which said that Hamas would stop its campaign of arson terrorism in exchange for the restrictions of the Gaza blockade being scaled back.
Meanwhile, tensions were still running high in Gaza-adjacent communities on Tuesday. The IDF carried out strikes on terrorist targets in the northern Gaza Strip, killing two operatives identified with Hamas’ military wing, the Izzedine al-Qassam Brigades. The IDF said that after Hamas snipers fired at IDF tanks, a tank fired back at the Hamas position from where the shots originated.
Hamas later published footage of the incident, along with a claim that the snipers had been busy with target practice and had not fired on IDF forces.
In other incidents, burning kites flown over the border fence from Gaza caused 10 wildfires on the Israeli side of the fence. Since the Gazan protesters, encouraged by Hamas, began using incendiary devices to cause fires in Israel, tens of thousands of acres of fields, nature preserves, national parks and open land have been left scorched and smoldering, in addition to wildlife harmed and killed.