Israel is conditioning the rebuilding of the Gaza Strip on the advancement of the release of Israeli citizens held by Hamas, according to a report in the Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar on Thursday morning, quoted by Ynet.
Israeli officials and representatives of the Hamas terror group are expected to meet for indirect talks in Cairo on conditions for a long-term ceasefire, facilitated by Egyptian officials. If the talks do take place, the Israeli delegation will be led by National Security Adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.
However, it remains to be seen if Hamas will accept Israel’s conditions for a ceasefire, which include the return of Israeli captives, an end of the launching of terror balloons from the Gaza Strip, and the transfer of rehabilitation aid solely through the Palestinian Authority.
Furthermore, Hamas had repeatedly demanded that Israel withdraw their security forces from Har Habayis and the east Jerusalem neighborhood of Sheikh Jarrah but Israel said that they will not meet any demands regarding Jerusalem.
Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar even told journalists on Tuesday that there are “10,000 suicide bombers in Israel” who are ready to respond if Israel carries out any “violations” of the Al-Aqsa Mosque on Har Habayis in Jerusalem.
Hamas is holding the bodies of Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, IDF soldiers who were killed in Operation Protective Edge in 2014, as well as holding captive two Israeli civilians, Avera Mengistu and Hisham al-Sayed, who both crossed into Gaza of their own accord in 2014 and 2015. Both suffer from mental illness.
Egypt is expected to play the main role in the reconstruction of Gaza, a role played by Qatar following previous skirmishes.
(YWN Israel Desk – Jerusalem)