Hamas expresses optimism after ceasefire talks
Egyptian delegation leaves Gaza following discussions regarding possible long-term arrangement between Israel and the terror group, in accordance with understandings reached during Operation Protective Edge four years ago; meanwhile, incendiary balloons start eight fires in Gaza border region.
After a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials left Gaza on Saturday night following a round of meetings with Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip, the terror organization expressed optimism regarding a possibility of reaching a wide-scale ceasefire arrangement with Israel.
"The meeting took place with a positive atmosphere between the two sides, discussing challenges such as the Palestinian issue and the siege of the Gaza Strip," Hamas said in a statement.
"Renewed efforts were made to achieve a cease-fire in accordance with the understandings reached in 2014 after Operation Protective Edge, which involve commitments by Israel,” they added.
"There was an in-depth discussion on ways to end the siege on the territory and ease the suffering of its residents, as well as the necessary demands for these steps,” the statement also stressed.
Palestinian sources described the visit as "significant and crucial."
The sources added that "Egypt's main interest is to reach an intra-Palestinian reconciliation in accordance with President Mahmoud Abbas's demand to remain the only Palestinian representative with whom any understanding can be reached regarding Gaza.”
However, according to the sources, Hamas wishes to reach an agreement with Israel for the sole purpose of taking credit for a possible lifting of Gaza blockade, while Egypt fears further escalation of hostilities if the agreement is not reached.
"Egypt views the dead end (in ceasefire talks with Israel) as pushing Gaza towards a dangerous military escalation on the border fence.
"Nevertheless, Egypt is not willing to promote calm only to please Hamas since it has bigger international and intra-Arab interests," the sources explained.
"Egypt will need to decide how to overcome this obstacle," they concluded.
Earlier in the day, eight fires broke out in the Gaza border communities as a result of incendiary kites and balloons being launched from the strip into Israel.
Firefighting crews, along with teams from the Nature and Parks Authority and Keren Kayemeth LeIsrael, gained control of the flames, which were later extinguished.
One of the fires started in the Nahal Bohu Park at the entrance to the southern city of Netivot.
On Thursday, an IAF aircraft attacked a terror cell in northern Gaza that was launching incendiary kites and balloons into Israeli territory.
Earlier on Thursday, six fires broke out as a result of incendiary balloons and one fire was started by an incendiary kite. The areas which were affected by the flames are: Kibbutz Nir Am, the Be'eri Forest, the Kisufim Forest and Shokeda Forest.
On Friday, the clashes along the security fence had resumed, with thousands of Gazas massing at several points near the Israeli border.
According to the Palestinian health ministry, one demonstrator was killed by Israeli security forces