Palestinians threaten to resume Gaza-Israel border protests
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Palestinians threaten to resume Gaza-Israel border protests

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The Palestinian terror groups have threatened to resume the weekly protests near the Gaza-Israel border if there is no progress in talks to improve the economic and humanitarian situation in the Hamas-ruled coastal enclave.

The threat was relayed to Israel through Egypt, Qatar and other mediators, according to Palestinian sources, who said that the groups were “running out of patience” because of the lack of progress in efforts to ease restrictions imposed on the Gaza Strip.
The 2018-2019 Gaza border protests, called by Palestinian organizers the “Great March of Return,” were a series of weekly demonstrations during which Palestinians clashed with IDF soldiers. The demonstrators demanded that the descendants of Palestinian refugees be allowed to return to their former villages and cities in Israel. They also protested against the blockade on the Gaza Strip.
The Hezbollah-affiliated newspaper Al-Akhbar said that the Palestinian groups have decided “to step up pressure along the borders of the Gaza Strip” after a period of relative calm during the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.

According to the newspaper, the planned escalation aims to push forward the ongoing discussions on the issues related to the Gaza Strip, especially the humanitarian and economic situation.

During the past two days, incendiary balloons were launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel as part of the decision to escalate tensions along the border.

The Palestinian terror groups are heading in the coming days towards a gradual escalation with Israel, which will start with launching explosive balloons, Palestinian sources told Al-Akhbar.

The factions are studying the possibility of “activating new pressure tools, including the resumption of the Great March of Return,” the sources said.

Rami Abu al-Rish, a senior official with the Hamas-controlled Ministry of Economy, accused the new government in Israel of practicing a policy of “twisting the arm” towards the Gaza Strip by limiting the entry of various goods, including construction materials.

“The renewed contacts coincide with the return of the Egyptian engineering delegation to the Gaza Strip to resume operations to remove the rubble of the destroyed buildings,” the sources noted. Hamas officials said that the removal of the rubble will be completed within one month, paving the way for the second phase of the reconstruction work.

The Israeli restrictions on the entry of construction material and the absence of agreement on a mechanism for delivering Qatari funds are likely to hinder the start of the second phase of reconstruction, the sources explained.

Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) officials, meanwhile, continued on Monday to issue threats against Israel.

Hamas spokesman Abd al-Latif al-Qanou said that more pressure on the Gaza Strip will lead to an explosion.

“Our people will not be patient for too long over the lack of reconstruction and the reluctance to take measures to break the siege,” Qanou cautioned.

PIJ leader Khader Habib also warned that the continuation of the restrictions on the Gaza Strip would will lead to escalation.

Israel, he said, “will bear the repercussions because it prevents the entry of necessary supplies, and mediators should exert pressure on Israel to fulfill its responsibilities.”

Hussam Badran, a senior Hamas official, was quoted on Monday as attributing the lack of progress to the new Israeli government’s “lack of political experience” and “internal differences.”

Badran said that the change of Israeli governments does not concern Hamas.

“But whenever we feel that there is some kind of hesitation and obstruction of negotiations to install the ceasefire and lift the siege on Gaza, we will resort, in agreement with the factions, to various tools to pressure the occupation,” Badran said. “The main reason for the truce negotiations faltering is the change of the Israeli government, which suffers from a lack of political experience and extensive internal differences.”

On efforts to rebuild the Gaza Strip, the Hamas official said that the experience of the past has shown that a number of countries do not abide by their commitments to help the Palestinians.

“Hamas will not allow any country to use its donation to rebuild the Gaza Strip in order to put pressure on the Palestinian resistance groups,” Badran said.

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