Hamas and Israel strike deal to end Gaza escalation

By Lydia Lakwonyero

Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6 in response to airborne incendiary devices and rockets launched across the border.

An israeli borderguard stands next to the light blade laser defence system designed to intercept airborne incendiary threats launched from the gaza strip 350x210

ISREAL|GAZASTRIP|POLITICS|HAMAS

Gaza's Islamist rulers Hamas said Monday they had reached a Qatari-mediated deal with Israel to end more than three weeks of cross-border attacks.

In the latest escalation, Israel has bombed Gaza almost daily since August 6 in response to airborne incendiary devices and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border.

The fire bombs -- crude devices fitted to balloons, inflated condoms or plastic bags -- have triggered more than 400 blazes and damaged swathes of farmland in southern Israel, according to the fire brigade.

After talks with Qatari envoy Mohammed el-Emadi, "an understanding was reached to rein in the latest escalation and end (Israeli) aggression against our people," said the office of the Palestinian group's Gaza leader Yahya Sinwar.

An Egyptian delegation had been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker the renewal of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year-old blockade of Gaza in return for calm on the border.

The delegation was joined by Emadi, who also held talks with Israeli officials in Tel Aviv.

In a statement, he praised the Hamas leadership for reaching a deal in light of the "difficult conditions of Gaza's inhabitants, especially in view of the spread of the coronavirus".

A Hamas source told AFP there had been "a total halt" to balloon and other attacks against Israel, in agreement with other factions in the coastal strip, home to some two million people.

"Fuel supplies will return and the power station will be restarted from Tuesday," the source said.

A punitive Israeli-imposed ban on fuel deliveries cut electricity to just four hours a day, supplied from the Israeli grid.