Israel eases Gaza restrictions despite missile attacks


Six missiles were fired at Israel from Gaza yesterday, despite Israel reopening two border crossings.

Five missiles landed in open areas in the Negev on Sunday morning. In response, the Israeli military attacked a number of empty Hamas positions. Despite the attacks, Israel yesterday re-opened the Erez Crossing (for Gaza residents with exit permits), as well as the Kerem Shalom crossing (for the movement of goods), and allowed fishing to resume off the Gaza coast. A sixth missile was fired on Sunday afternoon but caused no damage.

This week the Israeli Government will allow the transfer of funds from Qatar to Gaza, as agreed between Israel and Hamas with Egyptian and Qatari mediation. Israel is reportedly considering allowing $40 million of Qatari funds to be transferred per month for the next six months, a significant increase compared to $15m per month over the past six months.

A more extensive deal has been agreed between Israel and Hamas, mediated by Egypt. Hamas has agreed to stop launching flying firebombs into Israel and to cease night time demonstrations. In return Israel agreed to reopen the border crossings and to allow fuel into the Gaza Strip to operate power plants.

Israel has also agreed to increase the water supply through an additional pipeline and to activate another electricity line, which will double the electricity supply to Gaza, as well as to allow Hamas to export agricultural produce not only to the West Bank, but to Israel and Europe as well.

The Israeli concession followed mass demonstrations along the Gaza border on Saturday, when Palestinians commemorated Land Day and the one year anniversary of the ‘March of Return’ protests. The Israeli military summed up the day as one of quietest and most controlled by Hamas since the demonstrations began a year ago.

The IDF spokesperson said that hundreds of Hamas members wearing orange vests had stopped the demonstrators from reaching the fence and that Egyptian observers could also be seen in the Gaza Strip monitoring Hamas’s activity.

According to the Gaza Health Ministry, three Palestinians were killed. Two of them were 17 year olds, killed by live ammunition fired by the IDF. Over 100 Palestinians were injured and were taken to hospital, ten of whom were defined as being in serious to critical condition. Around 20 were injured by live ammunition and another seven by rubber bullets.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu expressed his appreciation for the ground troops in the Southern Command, the Air Force and the other branches for their “firm activity and massive preparations that helped achieve quiet.” Another government source said: “Israel is also pleased with the Egyptian efforts.”