JERUSALEM, Israel – The leaders of the terror group Hamas, including many of those in exile, gathered for the first time in Gaza on Friday to discuss a potential extended cease-fire with Israel. The Israeli government allowed the meeting despite the concern that several of the Hamas leaders are wanted by Israeli security for terror activities.
Even as the meeting took place, an estimated 8,000 Gazans protested at the Israeli border and terrorists continued to send incendiary balloons into Israel on Saturday. One protester died Friday in clashes with Israel Defense Forces.
The Lebanese newspaper al-Akhbar reports Hamas will consent to a five-year truce with Israel which would end Hamas efforts to crash the Israeli border with the Gaza Strip and to attack Israel with rockets, incendiary balloons, and kites which have sparked fires that charred thousands of acres and damaged crops.
Al-Akhbar said the deal calls on Hamas to pledge "the end of provocations along the border, or in other words, the phenomena of the flaming kites and balloons, border crossing operations and setting fire to border posts."
Under the Egyptian-brokered truce, Israel would ease the restrictions on goods coming into Gaza through its border crossings, and the Egyptian crossing into the Gaza Strip would be reopened, according to a report by Hadashot news.
However, an Israeli official speaking to Israel's Channel 10 cautioned that the Netanyahu government would not agree to any deal unless Hamas returns three Israeli prisoners being held in Gaza. A letter from the family of one of the prisoners, Oron Shaul, to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said in part, "Any deal that doesn't include the return of Oron, Hadar (Goldin) and (Avera) Mengistu and the rest of our citizens won't be worth the paper it's written on, or whatever verbal promises were made for it."
Israel's cabinet is expected to take up the proposed cease-fire during its weekly meeting Sunday.