Progress reported in Egyptian-led talks for an Israel-Hamas ceasefire

Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has reportedly succeeded in persuading Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas to agree to understandings being formulated between Israel and the Islamist Hamas organization. The London-based Arabic-language Al-Hayat daily reported the development, after many months in which the Palestinian leader opposed such a move due to concern that a cease-fire agreement would perpetuate Hamas’s rule in the Gaza Strip and would keep the Palestinian Authority out of the enclave, once and for all.

Meanwhile, Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has been expressing increasingly vocal criticism of an emerging cease-fire arrangement. The Israeli top defense official has not concealed his adamant opposition to any kind of agreement with Hamas. Furthermore, Lieberman has criticized the authorization that Israel gave Qatar to transfer money into the Gaza Strip. According to several senior Israeli sources, the Defense Minister was the only security cabinet member who attacked the transfer of funds to the terror organizations in Gaza in closed-door meetings. Lieberman’s frustration was also voiced in discussions with senior Defense Ministry officials, whom quoted the Defense Minister as saying: “This is a capitulation to terrorism, and in effect Israel is buying short-term calm with money, while severely undermining long-term security.”

Despite the strong objection by the top Israeli defense official, Qatari money continues to flow into the Hamas-run Gaza Strip. Yesterday a transfer of million 15 million dollars was reportedly made – funds earmarked for payment of salaries to Gazan officials, from a total amount of 90 million dollars that is slated to be handed over to Hamas in the next six months.

Meanwhile, In what has become an irregular incident in the last ten days, Palestinian Islamists attempted to damage the border fence and infiltrate Israel, prompting an IDF force to open fire, killing one and injuring two others. An IDF source told TV7 that this incident was the first time a Palestinian was killed near the Gazan-Israeli security fence in the past ten days, and that the terrorists had not crossed the border into Israeli territory.

This incident came just one day after another irregular incident, during which Egyptian naval forces opened fire toward a Palestinian fishing boat that breached the joint Israeli-Egyptian naval blockade. An Egyptian source told TV7, on condition of anonymity, that the Palestinian vessel entered Egypt’s territorial waters in what appeared to be a smuggling attempt. The Egyptian official stressed that while Cairo fully comprehends the sensitivity of this time period, it will not allow anyone to take advantage of the situation and harm Egypt’s security. In response to the incident, a spokesman of the Hamas-run Interior Ministry in Gaza demanded from Egyptian authorities to urgently investigate the matter, to assure it would never happen again. “Yesterday evening, the Egyptian naval forces fired at a boat carrying fishermen in Rafah water, southern Gaza. They fired directly toward the boat; one fisherman was killed. The Ministry of Interior and the national security request from the Egyptian authorities to urgently investigate this case and to ensure that this incident will not be repeated,” Hamas interior ministry spokesman Eyad al-Bozom said.


Egyptian Authorities did not immediately respond to TV7’s request for comment.