New Ministry of Defense policy: civilian relief for Gaza despite rocket fire

August 19, 2021 by Baruch Yedid - TPS
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Some 1,000 traders from the Gaza Strip entered Israel on Wednesday, for the first time since the Coronavirus outbreak over a year and a half ago.

The northern Gaza Strip as seen from the Israeli side of the border. Sderot, Nov 4, 2018. Photo by Ilanit Chernick/TPS

In addition, the shipping of goods through the Kerem Shalom crossing to and from the Gaza Strip was expanded, and this occurred only a day after Islamic Jihad terrorists fired two rockets at Israel, following the incident in which four terrorists were killed in a battle with Israeli security forces.

The government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, which has pledged to respond to any launch of incendiary balloons, has yet to respond to the rocket attack but has already made it easier for Gaza’s residents.

Various sources indicate that this is a decision stemming from a new policy of the Ministry of Defense and in light of consultations in which it was decided to take action to alleviate the pressure on the population in the Gaza Strip.

Israel decided a few days ago to approve the entry of 1,000 traders from the Gaza Strip and it seems that the launch of the rockets did not change the policy to ease the situation for the residents of the Gaza Strip.

The delay in transferring Qatari funds into the Gaza Strip over the past three months has prompted the defence establishment to take “maintenance” measures and prevent a deterioration in the civilian sphere in the Gaza Strip, despite the rocket fire.

The new wave of COVID-19 that has hit the Gaza Strip, which has been registering about 500 new cases daily, is also among the considerations of the Ministry of Defense.

The head of the fight against Corona in the Gaza Strip, Majdi Dahir, estimated Wednesday that the Delta variant has begun to spread in the Gaza Strip, but only on Thursday random samples from patients will be sent to the World Health Organization to discern whether this strain has entered the Strip.

On Wednesday, the factions in Gaza are expected to hold a coordination meeting in the office of Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar.

On Tuesday, after the rocket fire, the factions cancelled their planned meeting, according to sources in the Gaza Strip, due to the fear of Israeli military action following the rocket fire.

However, now that two days have passed and Israel has not responded, the factions will meet and discuss ways of action and response against Israel in the face of what they call the “Israeli siege imposed on the Gaza Strip,” the delay in bringing in Qatari money and Israel’s delay in rehabilitating the Strip.

The Lebanese newspaper Al-Akhbar reported Wednesday that Egypt had intervened after the rocket fire and demanded that the factions in Gaza not escalate the situation in order to give it an opportunity to convene with Israel and move forward on issues agreed upon at the end of Operation Guardian of the Walls.

The Palestinian factions are still demanding a return to the situation that existed on May 9, on the eve of Operation Guardian of Walls, and the expediting of reconstruction operations.

The newspaper added that the terror groups have sent a message to Egypt that they will respond to any Israeli attack following the rocket fire two days ago, with all the means at their disposal.

Meanwhile, talks between the factions and Egypt continue all the time, although there is nothing new regarding the transfer of the Qatari money to the Gaza Strip.

Sources in Israel point out that there is progress in this matter, but on the other hand, sources in the Gaza Strip told TPS that Hamas will not give up its demand to receive the Qatari money for its 27,000 civilian service members.

In Israel, it is said that the lack of response for the attack is intended to allow progress on the issue of the Qatari funds and on the issue of a prisoner exchange, and this is what the messages that Egypt conveyed to the factions said. On the other hand, a Hamas source said that there is no progress in the field of exchange of prisoners either.

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