A senior Hamas source has warned that if Israel does not allow the resumption of monthly monetary aid from Qatar and increase the electricity supply to the Gaza Strip by the end of the week, it will face an escalation in violence, Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Tuesday.
In a statement published in the newspaper, the Hamas source said that the organization has renewed its call for Egyptian, Qatari and United Nations mediators to put pressure on Israel to implement these demands as soon as possible, due to the situation in the Gaza Strip "heating up." He warned that the organization may not be able to contain independent attempts to cross the border.
The Hamas statement came ahead of the expected arrival of Qatari envoy Mohammed al-Emadi in the Gaza Strip via Israel this coming weekend, bringing with him millions of dollars in monetary aid and diesel to operate the overstretched Gaza power plant.
There have been several attempts by armed Palestinians to enter Israel from Gaza in the past few weeks. Most recently, IDF forces shot dead three Palestinian gunmen overnight Saturday near the border fence in the north of the Gaza Strip.
The incident came soon after three rockets were launched from Gaza at the Israeli city of Sderot and other communities near the Gaza border. Unofficial sources in Gaza said that the terrorists were members of the Islamic Jihad movement. The rocket fire was followed by IDF strikes on Gaza, which Hamas said was an Israeli attempt to distract from recent "courageous" terror attacks on Israelis in the West Bank.
A week earlier, the IDF said it foiled a major pre-dawn terror attack in the area of the Gaza border, blaming Hamas for the attempted infiltration by four Palestinians who were carrying Kalashnikov rifles, hand grenades and rocket-propelled grenade launchers.
The most serious incident was a failed infiltration attempt by Hamas operative Hani Abu Salah on August 1, in which three IDF soldiers were wounded.
On Friday, some 5,600 Palestinians protested along the Gaza border with Israel as part of the weekly "March of Return" demonstrations. The protesters threw stun grenades at the fence, and some even approached it. IDF troops used crowd dispersal methods to repel the protesters.
Qatar has in recent years funnelled hundreds of millions of dollars into relief projects in Hamas-controlled Gaza, which it views as helping stave off privation and fighting with Israel.
The intervention is approved by Israel but has gone largely unacknowledged by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who, along with U.S.-allied Arab leaders, has cold-shouldered Doha for its ties to Iran and Islamist groups like Hamas.
In June, a Qatari technical delegation met with the Israel Electric Corporation in Tel Aviv and in Gaza with energy officials to discuss Doha's offer to pay for the completion of a new Gaza electricity line. Al-Emadi has previously spoken of Qatar's willingness to take part in the project, whose cost he put at around $60 million.
Beside averting some of Gaza's chronic blackouts, an improved electricity supply would also help power sewage pumps and prevent water contamination plaguing two million Palestinians.
Reuters contributed to this report