Islamic Jihad foresees ‘long-term’ truce with Israel

Deputy secretary-general of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad Ziad al-Nakhaala said on Aug. 11 that a long-term ceasefire that would include the lifting of the siege on Gaza would be announced soon, stressing that "great progress" had been made in negotiations. The announcement, which comes on the first day of a five-day ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian militants, raises hopes that a long-term truce will materialize after more than two weeks of negotiations that have so far yielded few results. The breakthrough comes after Israel reportedly dropped its demand that Palestinian militant groups inside Gaza disarm, while apparently acceding to demands by the Palestinian delegation that the eight-year long economic blockade of the Strip be lifted.

Al-Nakhaala said that progress had been made in the ongoing negotiations in Cairo, and that agreements had been reached on the opening of crossings into Gaza, facilitating the entry of goods, expanding the fishing zone, and ending the Israeli-imposed "security buffer zone" that encompasses nearly 20% of the Gaza Strip's territory. Al-Nakhaala also added that Israel had agreed to commence talks on the re-opening of an airport and seaport in Gaza in a month, a key Palestinian demand. Israel destroyed Gaza's only airport in 2001 and has imposed a limit of three nautical miles on all boats from the enclave, crippling the fishing industry and ensuring total Israeli blockade of Gaza's land, air, and sea entries.

Al-Nakhaala noted that despite the progress, Israel was still pushing back on certain demands, including the entry of construction materials. He added, however, that even this dispute could resolved with an agreement that the materials received be monitored by the Palestinian Authority.

More than 1,950 Palestinians—the vast majority civilians—have been killed in the five-week Israeli assault on the Gaza Strip, which the UN said destroyed or severely damaged the homes of more than 100,000 Gazans.

From Ma'an News Agency, Aug. 14

  1. Islamic Jihad more ‘moderate’ than Fatah?

    As Islamic Jihad makes these conciliatory noises, PLO envoy to Tehran, Salah al-Zawawi. told his hosts: “Israel's annihilation has begun and the new generation in Iran will certainly witness our victory over Israel.” And: "We hope to be able to make our missiles more advanced with the help of the knowledgeable Iranians." Or so reports Times of Israel. We understand that such bluster is all for show, but still…

  2. Hamas says Israel stalling on agreement

    Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that the group's "priority is to reach an agreement, but the occupiers must stop stalling… Israelis will not enjoy safety until our people do and the siege is completely lifted. [Israelis in the south] will only return home when Hamas allows them to, not when Netanyahu does."

    The remarks come on the fourth day of a five-day temporary ceasefire. Medical authorities in Gaza now say that the total death toll of the Gaza assault has hit 2,016 and more than 10,193 injured, as dozens more Palestinians succumbed to wounds sustained during the bombardment. The dead included at least 541 children and 95 elderly, while 3,084 children and 368 elderly were among the wounded. (Ma'an)

  3. Israeli air-strikes resume in Gaza Strip

    Israeli airstrikes injured 18 Palestinians, including two children, in the Gaza Strip as ceasefire talks collapsed. Nine days of relative quiet came to an abrupt halt when three rockets struck southern Israel just hours before the truce was to expire at midnight local time. There was no immediate claim of responsibility for the rockets. An Israeli official said the negotiating team had been ordered back from Cairo where Egypt has been pushing for a decisive end to the Gaza bloodshed, which has killed more than 2,000 Palestinians and 67 on the Israeli side, mostly soldiers. (Ma'an)

    Israel has been refusing to allow employees of Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch to enter the Gaza Strip in order to conduct their own independent investigations into the fighting, using what Haaretz termed "various bureaucratic excuses."

  4. Hamas says military chief alive

    Hamas said on Aug. 20 its military commander Muhammad Deif was alive and still calling the shots in the ongoing war with Israel in and around Gaza. "The head of the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades Abu Khaled is still alive and leading the military operation," a source close to the Islamist movement told AFP, using Deif's nom de guerre. His remarks were made after an Israeli air strike leveled a six-story house in Gaza City, killing Deif's wife and infant son. (AFP) Hamas spokesman Abu Ubaida said in a televised speech that Israel had "failed" in its assault on Gaza and called upon the Palestinian negotiating delegation in Cairo to return home. The speech comes after Israeli airstrikes killed 22 Palestinians over the course of the day. The deaths brought the total Palestinian death toll in six weeks of Israeli bombardment to more than 2,040, with more than 10,200 injured as well. 

    "We tell Israel: you have failed. All you can do is kill children and women. You have failed in all your missions," Abu Ubaida said in his speech. "Muhammad Deif will enter Jerusalem as the head of the liberating army," he added. (Ma'anMa'an)

  5. Israeli airstrikes kill 38 across Gaza

    At least 38 Palestinians died on Aug. 21 as Israeli planes bombarded Gaza for the second day in a row after a temporary ceasefire fell apart after weeks of fighting, as the Palestinian negotiations delegation accused Israel of failing to respond to an offer for peace. The deaths brought the death toll in Israel's nearly 50-day assault on the besieged coastal enclave to at least 2,087. A member of the Palestinian delegations team at ongoing indirect peace talks in Cairo told Ma'an that they were still waiting for a response from Israel on a truce offer they had submitted. (Ma'an)

    Thousands of Palestinians marched in the funerals of three Hamas leaders and seven members of the Kallab and Younis families in Rafah, as Israeli air-strikes continued.Representatives and members of a wide variety of Palestinian political factions marched in the funerals, which set off from al-Awdah Mosque in Rafah. In addition to the three Hamas commanders Muhammad Abu Shammala, Raed al-Attar and Muhammad Barhoum that were killed in Israeli airstrikes, marchers mourned a 75-year-old patriarch of the Younis family, his wife and four children. (Ma'an)

    Speaking at a conference in Istanbul, Saleh al-Arouri, a Hamas official from the West Bank who now lives in exile in Turkey, appeared to confirm Israeli allegations that the Islamist group was behind the teenagers' abduction. 

    "There was much speculation about this operation, some said it was a conspiracy," al-Arouri told delegates at the meeting of the International Union of Islamic Scholars. "The popular will was exercised throughout our occupied land, and culminated in the heroic operation by the Qassam Brigades in imprisoning the three settlers in Hebron." (Reuters

  6. Haniyeh: Hamas will not accept less than end to blockade

    Gaza Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh on Aug. 22 said that the Palestinians would not accept anything less than an end to Israel's blockade of Gaza, as Israeli forces continued to attack the besieged enclave. Haniyeh accused Israel of using negotiations as a cover for their crimes and said it must accept the "fair demands" made by the Palestinian delegation, adding that Hamas would not accept anything less than an end to Israel's assault and the seven-year blockade. (Ma'an)

    Hamas meanwhile killed 18 Palestinians suspected of collaborating with Israel. The first 11 were killed at the Gaza City police headquarters.  Six more were killed later in the day in a public execution in a central Gaza square, according to a Hamas website and witnesses cited by Reuters news agency. (Al Jazeera)

    A mortar bomb fired from Gaza killed a four-year-old Israeli child in a border collective farm on Aug. 22, Israeli security sources said. His death marks four civilians killed in Israel in an attack from the Strip since the outbreak of conflict on July 8, and the first Israeli death since an Egyptian-brokered truce broke down earlier this week. (Reuters) The Israeli army reversed initial accusations that the mortar shell that killed the child had been fired from an UNRWA-run school. (Euro Asia News)

    Hundreds took part in rallies across the West Bank in solidarity with the besieged Gaza Strip that were violently dispersed by Israeli forces. At least two were injured in the marches, which took place in Kafr Qaddum, Beit Iksa, Masara, Bilin, and Nabi Saleh, in addition to an earlier march in Bethlehem where one Palestinian was also shot. (Ma'an)

  7. Israel strikes kill 10 in Gaza

    Israel pounded Gaza on Aug. 23 with scores of airstrikes, killing 10 Palestinians, mostly women and children, and bringing down a 12-story apartment building. Israel sent text messages, voice-mails and leaflets warning Palestinians that "every house from which militant activity is carried out, will be targeted" and to stay away from "terrorists." (AFP)

  8. Abbas announces Israel-Gaza ceasefire

    President Mahmoud Abbas on Aug. 26 announced a long-term ceasefire agreement between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip. Factions including Hamas and Islamic Jihad have reportedly accepted the agreement, which was brokered by Egypt and Qatar. (Ma'an)