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Expectations grow for long-term Gaza truce

China Daily | Updated: 2019-12-04 10:24

People inspect the debris of a building and huge holes after Israeli airstrikes hit the residential area of Khan Yunis, Gaza on Nov 14, 2019. [Photo/VCG]

GAZA STRIP, Middle East - Talks held in recent weeks may produce a long-term peace deal between the Hamas rulers of the Palestinian Gaza Strip and Israel.

Palestinian political observers said there would soon be an announcement of a truce brokered by Egypt, Qatar and the United Nations, along with the release by Israel of a plan to ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since 2007.

Israeli newspapers reported on Monday that an Israeli plan would propose that industrial zones be set up along the fence separating the Gaza Strip and Israeli territory.

Israeli daily Haaretz reported that Israel and Hamas continue to hold indirect discussions on a long-term agreement. The daily said that there are several signs that a deal might be reached.

Haaretz said that Israeli Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz has resumed talking about building an artificial island off the Gaza coast.

At the same time, the heads of the regional Israeli councils bordering Gaza also presented plans for establishing industrial zones along the border that would employ Palestinians.

Palestinian political experts said that Gaza may be close to a political and economic breakthrough in light of diplomatic moves at the regional and international levels to support the truce agreement.

Hossam Dajni, a Gaza-based writer and political analyst, said that Israel seeks to improve its image in the world as it makes serious attempts to normalize relations with Arab countries.

"It is clear that what is happening in Gaza is the stage of biting the fingers," he said.

"The international community is dealing with a peaceful solution in light of the fact that Hamas is no longer an obstacle to a settlement in the Palestinian territories, but is rather an essential part of any political solution," the expert said.

The Gaza Strip has been placed under a tight Israeli blockade since the Islamic Hamas movement seized the territory by force in 2007.

In the past decade, Israel and Hamas have been engaged in three wars that claimed the lives of thousands of Palestinians and Israelis.

Egypt, Qatar and the UN have been mediating for more than a year by introducing humanitarian facilities in Gaza and trying to prevent armed confrontations between Palestinian factions and Israel.

Gaza has witnessed relative calm in recent weeks, following military escalation between the militant Palestinian Islamic Jihad group, or PIJ, and Israel in mid-November.

The violence was sparked by Israel's killing of the PIJ's senior commander, Baha Abu al-Atta.

The PIJ responded by firing hundreds of rockets into Israeli towns and cities, while Israeli warplanes bombed military sites belonging to the PIJ. For the first time, Hamas military sites were excluded in the recent round of violence.

The escalation left 36 Palestinians killed, before Egypt and the UN intervened to broker a truce.

Hassan Abdo, a political analyst in Gaza, said that the Palestinian factions "managed to impose their equation on the ground, forcing Israel to accept political solutions which it rejected in the past".

The expert said that Israel always relied on excessive use of force against civilians in the Gaza Strip, mainly against protesters participating in weekly anti-Israel rallies, also known as the Great March of Return.

Abdo pointed out that Israeli citizens, who suffer from the military conflict with the Palestinian factions, "became another tool of pressure on the Israeli government to put an end to military confrontations with the Palestinians in Gaza."


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