|Hamas leader thanks Iran for long-range rockets, threatens Tel Aviv, fire balloons continue|
|[IsraelTimes] Yahya Sinwar says that without capabilities provided by Tehran, his terror group would not have been able to hit Beersheba as it did in last round of fighting.|
Separately, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services reported that an incendiary balloon launched from sparked a fire in an open field near the border with the coastal enclave.
This was the 45th such fire in May, which has seen ceasefire of rockets since May 6, but a near daily onslaught of incendiary objects flown from the Strip toward Israel, burning dozens of acres of land.
Israel announced Saturday night that, as of Sunday, the fishing zone off the coast of the Strip will be expanded to 15 nautical miles (27.8 kilometers), four days after it was reduced to 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) amid a rash of incendiary balloon attacks from the coastal Paleostinian territory.
Since last March, incendiary balloons have caused fires that destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel, in particular in the areas bordering .
|Hamas offers $1000 to Gaza families whose homes were destroyed by Israel|
Naji Sarhan, deputy of the Ministry of Works, announced that each family whose house was destroyed will receive $1,000 in urgent financial aid. The aid will be provided through charitable institutions in the Strip, he said during a .
Sarhan said that an additional 30 housing units were partially damaged by IAF strikes on the Strip earlier this week.
Israel "destroyed dozens of installations, workshops, shops and media offices, in addition to agricultural fields and greenhouses," he added.
He also claimed that the Israeli military strikes destroyed vehicles and ambulances, as well as electricity networks supplying power to the Strip.
The official said that the ministry has begun removing the rubble and opening streets that were closed during the two days of fighting between Israel and the -based terror groups.
The financial aid, Sarhan said, also includes providing rental fees to the families that lost their homes.
Hamas and Paleostinian (PIJ) leaders were expected to leave Cairo late Tuesday after holding truce talks with Egyptian intelligence officials ‐ and after earlier in the day allocated $48 million for the Paleostinians.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar and Islamic Jihad Secretary-General h were summoned to Cairo over the weekend for urgent talks on ways of restoring the ceasefire understandings that were reached with Israel earlier this year.
Those understandings broke down over the weekend, with Hamas and PIJ firing close to 700 rockets at southern Israel, killing four civilians. The IDF launched retaliatory strikes against 350 military targets, killing 30 Paleostinians.
A new Egyptian-mediated truce understanding was reached late Sunday night, that reportedly included the transfer of $30m. in Qatari funds to the cash strapped Hamas regime.
Paleostinian sources said that senior members of the two groups’ military wings, Izaddin al-Qassam (Hamas) and al-Quds Brigades (PIJ), participated in the discussions with Egyptian intelligence officials. The discussions, the sources said, resulted in the latest ceasefire understandings that were announced on Monday morning.
|Islamic Jihad warns of war during summer, calls last flareup ‘live fire drill’|
Paleostinian ’s Secretary-General Ziad al-Nakhaleh said Tuesday that he expected war with Israel in the coming months, and that his group and Hamas coordinated the outbreak of the most recent round of fighting.
"The last escalation was only a live fire drill in preparation for the major campaign that is coming," Nakhaleh said during an interview with the Hezbollah-linked al-Mayadeen news outlet, according to Hebrew media reports.
Nakhaleh said that Islamic Jihad and Hamas, a jihadist terror organization sworn to Israel’s destruction, decided to spark the last round of fighting with the Israel Defense Forces while the two groups were in Egypt to discuss a truce with Israel. Egypt has long acted as a broker between Israel and Paleostinian terror groups in .
"We decided to fire at an IDF officer and a female soldier last Friday in cooperation with Hamas to respond to the killing of protesters at the March of Return," Nakhaleh said, according to Channel 13 news. "This was decided while we were in Cairo. The Egyptians didn’t like the fact that this happened while we were in Cairo. Myself and Yahya Sinwar decided to continue the escalation," he said, referring to Hamas’s chief.
Between us and Hamas there is agreement on everything," Nakhaleh said.
Nakhaleh, who was named the Islamic Jihad chief in September 2018, also claimed that if the last outbreak had continued for a few more hours, "it would have been possible to bombard Tel Aviv."
The comments came less than 48 hours after the end of two days of intense fighting between Israel and -based that saw nearly 700 rockets and mortars fired at Israel and four Israeli civilians killed.
In response to the onslaught, the Israel Defense Forces conducted over 300 strikes from the air and land, including a rare of a terrorist operative whom the IDF said funneled money from Iran to terror groups in the Strip.
’s Hamas-run health ministry said 29 Paleostinians were killed by Israeli strikes, including two pregnant women and a baby. Israel said one of the women and the baby were killed in a failed rocket launch inside and not as a result of IDF actions.
|Hamas leader Sinwar heads to Egypt to discuss truce with Israel|
|[IsraelTimes] terror group turns to Egyptian intel chief to mediate return to ceasefire, after a day of rising tensions following arson balloon attacks.|
A delegation led by the group’s chief Yahya Sinwar left the enclave for Cairo on Thursday for talks with Egyptian officials on a truce with Israel, Hamas officials said.
Egypt has long been the broker between Israel and the terror group that runs .
In November it brokered a fragile truce agreement whereby Israel eased its blockade of the Strip in exchange for calm.
That agreement has appeared to be under stress in recent days, with Paleostinians launching arson balloons and rockets into Israel and Israeli warplanes striking Hamas targets.
In retaliation. Kinda forgot that part, hmmm?
Hamas has said the incendiary balloons were a message to Israel not to hold up the transfer of millions of dollars in i aid funds to the cash-strapped Hamas government in .
Hamas Fawzi Barhoum said Sinwar "left for Cairo at the invitation of the head of the Egyptian intelligence service, Major General Abbas Kamel."
The visit was aimed at discussing "bilateral relations and ways to lessen the suffering of our people," he said in a statement.
A Hamas official said the truce agreement would be discussed.
, a Hamas-allied group backed by Iran, said its head will also attend the meetings.
Israel’s air force carried out air raids early Thursday morning on "a number of terror targets in a Hamas military compound in the northern Strip," a military statement said.
It said they were in response to the launching of incendiary and explosive balloons from into Israel.
Paleostinian responded by launching two rockets into southern Israel. The projectiles fell in an open area, and no injuries were reported.
|Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar: In next war, Israel will have to evacuate Ashdod, Ashkelon, and even Tel Aviv.|
|Factions in #Gaza threaten immediate escalation, rockets deep into Israel if Netanyahu does not grant additional concessions|
Incendiary Balloon Lands In Sderot, Police Investigates
[Jpost] An alert citizen living in the southern city of Sderot noticed an incendiary balloon that landed in the city and called the authorities, the Police spokesperson said on Monday. A sapper was dispatched to defuse the explosive.
Reports: Islamic Jihad planning large Gaza attack to derail ceasefire talks
[IsraelTimes] Israeli defense officials on Monday warned that the Paleostinian appeared to be planning to conduct a large-scale terror attack on the border in order to derail ongoing ceasefire negotiations between Israel and , according to two Hebrew media reports.
The unnamed officials told Paleostinian affairs correspondents from the Ynet news site and Channel 14 television station that members of the Iran-backed group had been seen conducting "suspicious activities" near the security fence over the past day.
Paleostinian Islamic Jihad is the second-most powerful terror group in the Strip, after the coastal enclave’s de facto rulers, Hamas, though it is believed to have a slightly larger arsenal of rockets and mortar shells, mostly locally manufactured varieties based on Iranian designs.
The group is also suspected of being responsible for a barrage of rockets fired at southern Israel in the predawn hours of Sunday morning, which struck open fields in the Eshkol region, causing neither injury nor damage.
According to Monday’s reports, the PIJ operatives along the border appeared to be preparing for some kind of an attack, though the details were unclear. The anonymous officials said it could be the firing of an anti-tank guided missile at Israeli troops; a large-scale improvised attack; or some type of cross-border assault.
According to the anonymous officials, the Paleostinian Islamic Jihad’s Beirut-based leadership appeared to be trying to derail these ongoing ceasefire efforts with rocket fire and its planned attack along the border.
On Sunday afternoon, a mortar shell was launched from toward Israel but it failed to clear the border and landed inside the Strip.
These preparations are being carried out under the nose of the Egyptian mediators, and as far as is known, Hamas is not even aware of this activity. It appears that the instructions for carrying out the attack were given to the group's military wing by the Beirut office of Islamic Jihad leader Ziad Nahala.
It is still not entirely clear why Islamic Jihad is interested in bringing about the total collapse of the arrangement currently being brokered by Egypt. It is possible that this is the organization's way of expressing dissatisfaction at what they are receiving as part of the agreement, or could be a directive from Iran, which funds Jihad, aimed at destroying the arrangement. Islamic Jihad is also responsible for the six rockets fired at the border communities on Sunday morning.
Islamic Jihad denied the IDF claim. "There is no truth to these reports. From time to time Israel tries to create confusion in the Paleostinian arena, but these attempts will fail," the group said in a statement.
Two senior Islamic Jihad figures - Daud Shihab and Khaled al-Batsh - are members of the extended committee in the Strip that receives updates from Egyptian intelligence about the progress of the negotiations. It is unclear whether they too are part of the plan to scupper the arrangement via a major attack.
Negotiations for the arrangement between Israel and Hamas are being conducted by General Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who holds the Paleostinian portfolio in Egyptian Intelligence, and the UN's Middle East envoy, Nikolay Mladenov, who met Monday with Hamas leader at his home in the Shati refugee camp.
On the Hamas side, the negotiations are being handled by the group's chief Yahya Sinwar, while the Israel side is headed by National Security Council chair Meir Ben-Shabbat. As part of the negotiations, two crossings from Israel to the Strip - Erez and Kerem Shalom ‐ have been reopened, while the supply of diesel to operate the power plant has been renewed through the latter.
|Hamas caught in trap of its own making|
It must have been inevitable. Monday’s pre-dawn rocket fire on central Israel occurred just hours before leader in , Yahya Sinwar, was to deliver a speech, marking a year since the start of the March of Return demonstrations. Although the campaign’s goals were always a little less grandiose than actually returning to pre-Israel Paleostine, they were no less ambitious - trying to lift the blockade on .
A year has passed and Sinwar doesn’t really have anything to say, neither to the ordinary residents of the Strip nor to the loyal Hamas supporters who have demonstrated tirelessly week after week over the past year along the security fence. The economic situation has not improved and the millions in
|The Hamas commander who kept a low profile|
|[Ynet] Nour Baraka, who oversaw Khan Yunis for , grew suspicious when he spotted the undercover Israelis in a van near his home. He went to investigate and was killed in the firefight that ensued on Sunday night.|
Even the neighbors of Nour el-Deen Baraka didn't know what he really did. He completed his master's degree in comparative Sharia law only this year after a period of intense study and memorization of the Koran. The group of uniformed men that generally accompanied him might have given his neighbors a clue of his other, more valuable role.
Nour Baraka, 37, married with four children, was known for keeping a low profile. He lived in the family house in Bani Suheila, east of Khan Yunis‐not far from where Hamas leaders Muhammad Dahlan and Yahya Sinwar were raised.
Nour Baraka was the commander of the Khan Yunis Brigade of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of Hamas, and was also put in charge of the Khan Yunis tunnels.
But the most famous of the Baraka family is actually his brother, Dr. Suleiman Baraka, a space scientist and astronomer, who studied in Egypt and , moved to the United States to complete his doctorate, worked for NASA and won prestigious prizes in and Washington. In 2008, after his 11 year-old son was killed in an Israeli operation in , Dr. Baraka stopped his work and returned to .
Recently, Suleiman gave a speech at a Paleostinian TED event and received loud applause from the Gazook audience as he recounted his life-story in the Arab world. He described how in Syria he was suspected of being a Paleostinian spy, how they were sure that he was a Zionist spy in after seeing an Israeli stamp on his passport, how he had not managed to reach Australia and how he had almost settled in despair in Libya. "But in the end, like my brother Nour, I belong to the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades," he said.
On the day of the incident, Nour returned from a "work tour" in the north of Khan Yunis and entered his house. According to reports in , he identified "something suspicious" when he spotted a Volkswagen outside his window. He questioned the Israeli passengers, was not satisfied with their answers, and then the weapons were drawn and the shooting began.
According to reports on social media and news outlets in , two Israelis from the Volkswagen dressed in women's clothing were the ones who Nour Baraka.
TV correspondent Wa'il Dahdouh air images on Monday of what was left of the Volkswagen used by the Israelis before they fled. "This is far beyond killing or taking captive a Paleostinian, the Israelis planned something much bigger here, and did not succeed," he said.
|PA fumes as suitcases of ‘gangster’ Qatari cash reach Gaza in bid to ease crisis|
|[IsraelTimes] While Israel gives approval for first $15 million to enter -ruled Strip, Liberman slams move as ’capitulation to terrorism’; border continue despite deal|
Paleostinian civil servants formed long lines in on Friday to receive i-funded salaries, as part of efforts to ease tensions in and around the impoverished territory, even as the Paleostinian Authority slammed the envoy who brought in the suitcases of cash as a "gangster" and a "smuggler."
A total of $90 million is to be distributed in six monthly installments of $15 million, according to authorities, primarily to cover salaries of officials working for Hamas, the Islamist terror group that rules the Paleostinian enclave.
Some exited post offices, where the first payment was being distributed, to show off hundred-dollar bills before the cameras, after several months of sporadic salary payments in cash-strapped .
"I came to collect $400, my salary for July," Fadi Abu Safia, a 35-year-old government employee, said at a post office in City.
Mohammed Abed al-Hadi, 27, said he would be collecting 700 shekels ($190 dollars), "quite a sum considering the conditions we’re living in", as compensation for an injury in the border .
The cash was driven into the Paleostinian enclave through Israel late Thursday by Qatar’s envoy to , Mohammad al-Emadi, according to a government source in .
Qatar has also said it would hand out $100 to each of 50,000 poor families, as well as larger sums to Paleostinians in along ’s border with Israel.
The Israeli-authorized money transfer appeared to be part of a deal that would see cash-strapped Hamas end months of often violent protests along the border in exchange for Israel easing parts of its blockade of .
Despite the deal, there were still protests along the border Friday, although smaller than in previous weeks. In one case, demonstrators threw stones at the convoy of al-Emadi who toured the border area.
Reports said the Paleostinians also threw several s at IDF soldiers and two men tried to breach the border. The army responded with tear gas and riot dispersal means. At least one Paleostinian was killed and 37 Paleostinians , the Hamas-run health ministry said.
Senior Paleostine Liberation Organization official Ahmed Majdalani expressed the anger of the West Bank-based Paleostinian Authority over the deal.
Emadi had "smuggled the money" into in suitcases like a "gangster," the official said.
"The PLO did not agree to the deal facilitating the money to Hamas that way," Majdalani, who is close to Paleostinian Authority President , told AFP.
Such a deal harmed Egyptian efforts to reconcile Hamas and the PA and would allow the terror group to consolidate its control over , Majdalani said.
In another Israeli-approved deal, Qatar has started buying additional fuel for ’s sole power station, allowing planned outages to be reduced to their lowest level in recent years.
Egypt and the have been brokering indirect negotiations for a long-term truce with Israel, with which Hamas has fought three wars since 2008.
Touring the protests Friday, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar denied there was a deal with Israel, but said Hamas was working with the UN, Egypt and Qatar to end the blockade.
|Hamas demands $15 million per month in exchange for calm — report|
|[IsraelTimes] Israeli security cabinet set to convene Sunday for a briefing on the situation in after weekend marked by salvos of rockets, IAF responses|
on Saturday demanded that Israel transfer the -based terror group $15 million in cash from every month in order to prevent further escalation in the Paleostinian enclave.
In a document handed to Egypt, the terror group’s leader Yahya Sinwar added that the organization expects Israel to transfer the money by next Thursday, Hadashot TV reported.
According to the news station, the demand for cash is intended to circumvent the Israeli coordination and supervision mechanism that was in place until now, according to which the Paleostinian Authority would pay worker salaries transparently.
Israel has not yet responded to the Hamas demand.
The Israeli security cabinet is set to convene Sunday for a briefing on the situation in , as well as on the efforts being made by Egypt to broker a ceasefire between the Jewish state and Hamas.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman met with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot and other top security officials on Saturday.
A few hours after Islamic Jihad announced the ceasefire, the Eshkol Regional Council lifted orders that residents must remain in close proximity to bomb shelters.
Restrictions remained in place, however, limiting gatherings outdoors to 100 people and those indoors to 500.
The declaration by Islamic Jihad to end the rocket fire came as the Israel Defense Forces said fighter jets struck eight targets tied to the Iran-backed terror group in three separate military facilities after Israel was hit by salvos of rockets from overnight and on Saturday morning.
The targets included weapons production sites and a factory that makes parts for subterranean tunnels, the army said, adding that the later was near a school.
The top IDF spokesperson earlier blamed Iran and Syria for the Islamic Jihad rocket attacks. Though he did not accuse Hamas of taking part in the launches, Brig. Gen. Ronen Manelis reiterated that Israel considers the terror group responsible as ’s rulers.
Another IDF , Lt. Col. Jonathan Conricus, said the rocket strikes were ordered by operatives from the overseas branch of Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps stationed in Syria and warned Israel may not limit its response to .
"From our perspective, part of the address by which we will deal with this fire is also in Damascus and the Quds Force," he said. "Our response is not limited geographically."
|In interview with Israeli paper, Hamas chief defends group’s terror tactics|
The leader of in the Strip defended its use of s, incendiary airborne balloons and other violent tactics to target Israel over the years, while asserting it is interested in peace.
In a rare interview with the Israeli paper Yedioth Ahronoth, published Friday, Yahya Sinwar also said conditions during his time in Israeli prison were better than conditions in and that though they were once famous for their intellectual feats, Jews are now known for "executions without trial."
|Defense minister orders IDF on high alert at border|
|[IsraelTimes] Liberman says troops ready to confront ’any scenario’ after army bolsters forces around security fence|
"Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman held an assessment session this afternoon on the situation in the Strip, together with the chief of staff, head of military intelligence, Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT), and other security officials," a statement from his office said.
Liberman instructed the IDF to maintain "maximum preparedness for any scenario," according to his office.
Earlier in the day, the army announced it had decided to deploy additional troops to the Strip area.
"It was decided to send large numbers of reinforcements in the coming days to the Southern Command and to continue the determined policy of thwarting terror attacks and preventing infiltrations into Israel from the Strip security fence," the army said in a statement.
The army also set up additional Iron Dome air defense batteries in southern Israel as part of the move.
Border riots, dubbed the "Great March of Return," have increased dramatically in recent weeks. These began as weekly events from late March through the summer, but appeared to slow as the -ruling terror group entered indirect talks with Israel aimed at a ceasefire.
When those talks stalled, Hamas increased the pace of rioting and demonstrations against Israel, and created new units tasked with sustaining tensions along the border fence including during nighttime and early morning hours.
In an interview with the Yedioth Ahronoth daily published Thursday, the leader of the Hamas terror group in , Yahya Sinwar, said he didn’t want any more wars but said an "eruption is inevitable" given the current humanitarian conditions in the Strip ‐ conditions that Israel and some others in the world blame explicitly on Hamas’s poor governance of the coastal enclave.
British publication The Telegraph reported Wednesday that in a recent five-hour briefing to Paleostinian s, Sinwar laid down his new strategy which states that if Israel lifts the blockade, Hamas and the other Paleostinian factions would ensure all rocket launches and other attacks against Israel are stopped.
The Hamas leader reportedly said he is confident that an agreement with Israel can be reached by mid-October, but threatened to cause "chaos" with mass border demonstrations if there is no deal.
A senior Hamas official on Sunday accused Paleostinian Authority President of fomenting violence in the region and pushing Israel toward a new war in the Strip.
"Abbas wants to control everything in ; war is good for him," Mahmoud al-Zahar, a in the Strip, told Arab media. al-Zahar was in Cairo as part of a large delegation from taking part in talks to reach a Paleostinian reconciliation deal and a possible long-term truce with Israel.
At least 140 Paleostinians were killed during the protests since late March, according to AP figures. Hamas has acknowledged that dozens of the fatalities were its members.
On Friday, the Haaretz daily quoted Israeli security sources as saying that Hamas is preparing for war, bolstering its forces significantly over the past few weeks.
That assessment is not new, IDF sources told Haaretz, having warned repeatedly that the situation is more likely to escalate than to calm down. recently the army noted that the terror group appears to actively be readying itself for a limited conflict with Israel. It is only a question of when Hamas will decide to go to war, the paper said.