Hamas Chief Vows to Investigate Rocket Launch

Hamas Chief Ismail Haniyeh gestures as he delivers a speech in Gaza City Gaza – Asharq Al-Awsat Hamas politburo chief Ismail Haniyeh told the United Nations envoy for the Middle East Nickolay Mladenov that he did not know who in Gaza was responsible for this week’s rocket fire at Israel, sources reported.

Haniyeh said the movement was investigating to know who carried out the attacks, asserting that “no faction fired toward Israel” in the past week.

“We’re conducting an investigation to find out who fired,” Haniyeh told Mladenov at the meeting in Gaza, adding that all Gaza-based factions had denied firing at Israel.

Haniyeh stressed that Hamas does not want the ceasefire deal reached with Israel to collapse.

Recent developments came at a time Hamas and other factions threatened to escalate the situation if Israel did not honor the agreements. 

Israeli war jets raided Gaza Strip hours after a rocket launched from Gaza slammed into a religious school, causing damage but no injuries.

The Israeli military said in a statement that fighter jets and other aircraft attacked “several terror targets, including terror infrastructure in military compounds.”

On Thursday morning, the Iron Dome system intercepted a rocket fired from Gaza and Israeli jets shelled an underground Hamas facility in the southern Gaza Strip. Tension in Gaza has risen as Israel imposed a naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

An army spokesman said that in the wake of the firing of incendiary balloons from Gaza, Israel imposed naval blockade on the Gaza Strip.

Over the past few days, many balloons were launched from the Strip towards the settlements in a clear shift in Hamas’ policy. Hamas said that demonstrations would see escalations if Israel continued to stall the implementation of the understandings brokered between both parties and sponsored by Egypt, UN, and Qatar. 

Israeli media said Qatari Ambassador Mohammed al-Emadi was informed by the Israeli government he should not arrive in Gaza for the transfer of money. However, Mladenov promised Haniyeh that the Qatari envoy would enter the Gaza Strip with a monthly cash delivery, and conveyed that Israel was interested in maintaining calm in the south.

Top Israeli army generals were expected to push for a much stronger response to rocket fire and arson balloons from the Gaza Strip after the attacks, according to Israeli media.

Citing a senior military source, a televised report said Israel was “on the verge of a serious military campaign,” and said the army was considering ending its policy of warning occupants of buildings ahead of airstrikes, even if it causes casualties.

“Everything is hanging by a very thin thread and the situation could change dramatically,” a veteran military source told Channel Two.

However, political analysts noted that it was unlikely that the government would authorize a major military campaign ahead of the elections set for September.

Tensions with Gaza have been steadily rising in recent weeks, with Israel blocking Gazan fishermen from access to the sea in response to multiple incendiary balloons being launched over the border. On Friday, the Israeli army deployed a battery system close to Gaza after a rocket was launched.

This week, an Egyptian security delegation is supposed to arrive in order to contain any possible escalation. Cairo had drawn up an agreement last month for a ceasefire between Israel and Palestinian factions in the Gaza Strip.

The agreement include expanding the fishing zone to 12 miles, improving electricity networks and supplies, facilitating export and import operations and resuming transfers of funds to the Strip. In exchange, Hamas pledged to halt rocket fire and keep border protests under control and far from the separation fence. (Source / 16.06.2019) 

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