Egyptian meditators arrived in the Hamas-controlled Gaza Strip on Friday after fears of renewed tension along the enclave’s border with Israel a day after the Israeli military shot and killed a Hamas militant.
The Egyptian delegation, comprised of senior officials of the General Intelligence Service, began talks with the militant Islamic group and other factions in Gaza City.
Salah al-Bardawil, a Hamas official, said talks focused on an unofficial truce that Egypt brokered between his movement and Israel and efforts to achieve reconciliation between Hamas and its Fatah rival President Mahmoud Abbas.
Meanwhile, thousands of Palestinians gathered at five locations along the perimeter fence separating Gaza from Israel as part of a protest campaign that Hamas launched last year to protest a crippling blockade. Israel and Egypt imposed the closure when Hamas took over Gaza by force from the Western-backed Palestinian Authority in 2007.
Gaza’s health ministry said 33 Palestinians were wounded by live gunshots during the weekly demonstration.
Late on Friday, the Israeli military said it identified one rocket fired by Palestinian militants into southern Israel. It did not elaborate.
Aside from Thursday’s killing of the Hamas gunman, the Gaza-Israel frontier has remained largely quiet since May, after Hamas and Israel ended their worst round of conflict in years. Israel said its forces misidentified the militant — whose mission was to prevent infiltration through the fence — as an attacker.
But Fathi Hammad, a member of Hamas’ politburo, told demonstrators Friday that his movement will respond to the shooting.
Hamas says Israel is avoiding the cease-fire terms that call for easing restrictions and improving conditions in the impoverished enclave.
Hammad threatened to escalate the protests and resume firing incendiary balloons toward Israeli farmland if Israel doesn’t accelerate measures alleviating Gaza’s economic and humanitarian crisis within a week. “We have rough means proving that we won’t remain silent with the Israeli occupation not implementing the understandings,” he said.