Hamas’ goal is to force Israel to return to the status quo that was before Operation Guardian of the Walls.
By Baruch Yedid, TPS
Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip said Sunday morning that “popular activity,” meaning cold-weapons terrorism, will continue in response to the continued “imposition of the siege on the Gaza Strip and the prevention of the passage of goods and construction materials.”
At a conference held near the area in which the mass rally that turned into violent clashes on the fence took place on Saturday, faction representatives said they “call for continued popular protest in Gaza and the West Bank and widening points of friction with Israel.”
Sources in the Gaza Strip estimated, in conversations with TPS, that Hamas allowed the violent riots on the fence, despite a publication in the Al-Akhbar newspaper in which Hamas told Egypt that it did not intend to turn the 59th anniversary of an attack on Al-Aqsa Mosque into a violent incident.
“Hamas refused the Egyptians’ request to move the planned rally into Gaza City, allowing hundreds of people to confront IDF soldiers,” said a source in the Gaza Strip, adding that the terrorist who critically wounded an IDF soldier after shooting him at point-blank range was an Islamic Jihad operative and that before the soldier was shot, shots were fired from the crowd.
On the other hand, sources close to the Hamas leadership claim that Saturday’s events are the result of a loss of control over the demonstrators. According to them, Hamas deployed restraining forces near the fence, where the rally was held, but at the end of the event, they withdrew from the area and Hamas allowed the rioters a free hand in a way that would now serve its purposes and not complicate its relations with Egypt.
One way or another, officials in the Gaza Strip say that Hamas’ goal now is to force Israel to return to the situation that prevailed on May 9, on the eve of Operation Guardian of the Walls, including the complete opening the crossings, transferring of goods into Gaza and the transfer of Qatari money.
“Yesterday’s events have an interpretation from Hamas’ point of view that is different from what you see in Israel,” said a source in the Gaza Strip. “Hamas is already under pressure from the Gaza street and the restraint it has shown for three months is crumbling. The Qatari grant is only part of the demand for the lifting of the siege over the Strip, and the recent opening of crossings, the import of goods, and the departure of merchants do not change the situation and the [Egyptian] brokers are unable to provide answers.”
The Gaza Strip is mocking what was published in Israel over the weekend, according to which there is cautious optimism regarding progress on issues such as the exchange of prisoners, a long-term ceasefire and especially reports in Israel about “the significant achievement of signing the agreement with Qatar to transfer money to the Gaza Strip.”
Various sources in the Gaza Strip estimate that Hamas will try to get Qatari money into the Gaza Strip in a manner that was customary before Operation Guardian of the Walls, as well as its demands on the entry of goods, construction materials, and raw materials into the Gaza Strip and that the crossings be opened continuously.
“It is necessary to open the crossings, to bring in all types of goods, and to enter the Qatari grant through the mechanism that existed during Netanyahu’s time,” said a source in the Gaza Strip.
Sources close to Hamas point out that the outline for the entry of the Qatari funds as described by the defense minister over the weekend and in the Israeli media does not meet Hamas’ demands because it has no guarantee that the money will continue to flow next year, and especially in light of the intention in Israel to transfer the money later through the Palestinian Authority and under its control.
This comes against the background of statements in Israel that the agreement will be valid until the end of 2021 and that the intention is to continue the transfer of funds next year through the PA.
One source in the Gaza Strip said that although the European Union representatives have promised that the issue of transferring the seven million dollars to Hamas officials, along with paying 10 million dollars to poor families, is expected to be resolved soon, Hamas opposes deleting hundreds or thousands of names by Israel from the 160,000 list which was passed to the Qataris.
Although in recent days Israel has opened the crossings and allowed the transfer of cement, tires and goods, and the departure of about 1,300 traders and businessmen from Gaza into Israeli territory, the Palestinian factions are now demanding the expansion of the opening crossings and the start of work to rehabilitate the Strip.
The official position of Hamas regarding the agreement has not been published so far, and sources in the organization have voiced various assessments regarding Hamas’ position on this matter and regarding the rally in the Gaza Strip.
The Quds Press network reported that Palestinian factions considered changing the rally in the wake of reports of a solution to the Qatari grant issue, but an official in the authority organizing the riots said Friday morning that there was no intention to change the rally.