Hamas scales back Gaza violence amid ceasefire efforts

The Gaza-based terror group reportedly kept the number of rioters down on Friday in an apparent attempt to persuade Israel and Egypt to ease restrictions on the coastal enclave.

By Associated Press and World Israel News

Gaza’s Hamas rulers tamped down violent riots on the territory’s border fence with Israel as Egypt stepped up efforts to restore calm, making Friday the quietest day of months of violent Hamas-orchestrated confrontations.

Only a few thousand Palestinians rallied at the frontier, in one of the lowest turnouts since the weekly riots began in March. No attempts to breach the border fence were reported.

While Hamas wants relief from a crippling 11-year-old blockade on Gaza, it threatened Israel even as it attempted to appease Egyptian negotiators leading diplomacy efforts.

“We are following the efforts and [Israel] is being tested,” said Khalil al-Hayya, a senior official from the terror group.

“If lifting the siege is late, you will experience in the winter what you did not see in the summer,” he said, threatening Israel.

Israel and Egypt largely sealed their borders with Gaza after Hamas seized control of the territory in 2007 in a bloody coup in which it overthrew the Fatah-controlled Palestinian Authority.

On Friday, Egyptian mediators in SUVs drove by two riot locations for the first time.

The envoys from Egypt’s intelligence service have been talking separately with Hamas and Israel for months. Cairo hopes to restore calm and revive Palestinian talks to reconcile Hamas with President Mahmoud Abbas’s Palestinian Authority administration.

Hamas’ riots involve widespread use of civilian human shields, with protesters burning large piles of tires and using the smoke as a screen to fire on Israeli troops and hurl rocks, firebombs and grenades at IDF soldiers.

A Palestinian sniper shot dead an Israeli soldier in July. More than 160 Palestinians have been killed since the riots began in March, with a significant percentage of the casualties identified as Hamas members or affiliates.