Militant groups in the Gaza Strip, which are dominated by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, have ordered their members to stop all launches of firebombs towards Israeli communities on the opposite side of the border, Palestinian newspaper al-Quds reported Wednesday.
All Hamas and Islamic Jihad men were also ordered to end their nightly disturbances along the Gaza border fence, the report said, as well as the use of explosives during riots along the border. The new directives are in line with the understandings being reached with Israel under Egyptian mediation.
Also Wednesday, Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh said that efforts to reach an arrangement with Israel, following last week’s flare-up in the Gaza border region, are progressing well, and that a prisoner swap is not out of the question.
“Understandings regarding the ceasefire and the removal of the blockade on the Strip are progressing,” Haniyeh said in an interview with Palestinian newspaper al Istiqlal. “Yesterday we got the schedule for the implementation of many issues that are part of the arrangement.”
Hamas is currently holding the remains of two Israeli soldiers who fell in the 2014 Gaza war, Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, as well as two Israeli civilians who entered the Strip of their own accord, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed. The families of the four have urged the government to take steps to secure their return.
Haniyeh said that Qatar, Egypt and the United Nations are supporting the negotiation process. Egypt is mediating the negotiations, as there are no direct ties between Israel and Hamas.
“There is no reason why we can’t discuss a prisoner swap through outside mediators,” Haniyeh said, but added that the current understandings do not include such a deal.
On Tuesday, Haniyeh said that his organization has given Israel a series of demands regarding its security prisoners, jailed in Israel, who are set to begin a hunger strike next week.
The demands were passed to Israel by the Egyptian delegation, and included the removing the cell phone jamming device for prisoners, lifting recent sanctions on the prisoners, restoring visits and improving prison conditions.
According to Hamas, some of the understandings with Israel regarding the Gaza Strip will be implemented before the elections on April 9, and some afterwards.
The understandings that will be implemented before the elections are the simpler ones, such as expanding the fishing area off the Gaza coast (already done); easing restrictions on exported goods from Gaza; improving the electricity supply by operating the turbines at the power plant; and beginning projects that will provide temporary employment.
The understandings that will be implemented after the elections include the construction of another power line from Israel to Gaza within six months and the construction of a gas pipeline to the Gaza power plant within a year. In addition, the Palestinians are demanding the establishment of infrastructure and alternative energy projects.
The timetables will be presented to representatives of the Palestinian factions in Gaza, who will announce whether they accept or reject them.