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Israel and Hamas agree on ceasefire.

Image Credit: AP/Ariel Schalit

On Tuesday, both Israeli authorities and Hamas agreed on a ceasefire over the rapid spread of coronavirus on both sides. Both Israel and Hamas agreed to the terms of a truce that was brokered by Qatar, Egypt and UN in 2018. This allows both sides to combat the spread of the coronavirus. Hamas , the Palestinian group which is currently running the Gaza strip, and is designated as a terrorist group by Israel has been in conflict with Israel in the last 3 weeks. Hamas fired rockets and incendiary balloons into Southern Israel, while Israel responded with several airstrikes and tank fire.

Israel has reopened the commercial crossing where fuel and goods pass to reach the enclave at Kerem Shalom. The closure of this crossing for the past 3 weeks has prevented fuel from reaching the Gaza strip leading to power cuts throughout Gaza. Israel has also opened Gaza’s fishing zone till a distance of 28km off the coast of the strip.

Last week, a Qatar envoy led by Mohammed el-Emadi arrived in Gaza with $30 million in cash to help ease the tension between Israel and Hamas, and to help the territory of 2 million people, half of whom live below the poverty line. Sources close to the Qatari delegation said that Israel was willing to do a truce in exchange for an end to the incendiary balloons.

Osama Hamdan, Hamas political bureau member said ‘The leadership of the resistance factions was interested in achieving an agreement that would allow our people to confront the (COVID-19) pandemic, and that the occupation would not benefit from this crisis to put pressure on our people.’

United Nations Special Coordinator regarding the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov hailed the truce, ‘I welcome the agreement to de-escalate tensions in and around Gaza. Ending the launching of incendiary devices and projectiles, restoring electricity will allow UN to focus on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.’

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