International mediators trying to stave off new Israel-Hamas confrontation

Gaza reconstruction may hinge on Hamas releasing Israeli hostages and PA banks transferring Qatari aid.

By David Hellerman, World Israel News

Mediators from Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations are working to stave off a new confrontation between the Hamas terror group and Israel, according to Mideast media reports.

Officials in Jerusalem announced on Friday that Gaza businessmen will be allowed to enter Israel through the Erez Checkpoint for the first time in 18 months. This follows a lull in which Gazans did not launch any incendiary balloons toward Israeli territory.

But the larger issue of Gaza’s reconstruction or a new crisis appears to hinge on Hamas releasing Israeli hostages and Palestinian Authority (PA) banks transferring Qatari financial aid to the Strip.

Israel insists that Gaza’s reconstruction after the 11-day conflict in May be conditioned on Hamas releasing two Israeli civilians and the bodies of two Israeli soldiers. Hamas holds the bodies of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Staff Sgt. Oron Shaul, who were killed in Gaza in 2014 during Operation Protective Edge.

Avraham Mengistu, of Ashkelon, crossed into the Strip in 2014; the next year, Hisham al-Sayed also managed to enter Gaza. Both are reportedly mentally unstable.

Hamas and other Gaza terror groups oppose Israel’s linkage between receiving funds and the release of Israeli hostages.

The terror groups also accuse PA banks of delaying the transfer of Qatari funds. PA banks are balking at the transfer amid concerns they could be liable for funding and supporting terror. In addition to funds for 100,000 needy Gaza families, Hamas wants the funds to also cover salaries of 27,000 civilian administration employees.

A senior member of the Fatah Central Committee, Azzam al-Ahmed, blamed Israel for the delay in funds, but said the PA should be responsible for rebuilding Gaza.

“There will be no reconstruction without achieving unity and ending the division,” Azzam said.