Egypt mediators enter Gaza after week of clashes with Israel
Egyptian mediators entered Gaza on Monday seeking to calm tensions after a week of clashes in which Israel has launched military strikes in response to airborne incendiary devices that have ignited wildfires.
Israel has targeted positions of Hamas, the Islamist group that runs the Palestinian territory, and which it holds responsible for all cross-border attacks from the coastal enclave.
The delegation from Egypt, which has traditionally played the role of mediator in the restive Palestinian enclave, entered Gaza at around midday (0900 GMT), according to security sources and eyewitnesses who spoke to AFP.
Israeli tanks pounded Hamas targets earlier Monday in what has become a daily response to Palestinian rockets, firebombs that are carried by bunches of balloons into southern Israel, and more recently to clashes on the border.
The army also reported violent protests on Saturday, as "rioters burned tyres, hurled explosive devices and grenades towards the security fence and attempted to approach it".
There were more frontier riots on Sunday, the army said.
'Improve terms' of the truce
With fuel imports blocked, Gaza's electricity authority announced that more service cuts would be implemented from Monday, adding to frustrations for Gazans who already endure irregular power supply.
Qatar has yet to announce an extension of the aid past September, fuelling speculation that uncertainty over future funding was driving the unrest.
"Qatar will not give up Gaza, and I think Qatar has informed Hamas of its agreement to pay until the end of the year or for a new year," he told AFP.
"Hamas does not want an escalation," Saada added. "All that is happening is an attempt (by Hamas) to improve the terms of the calm."
A source familiar with Israel-Hamas affairs, who requested anonymity, told AFP that there "seems to be a block" on these other issues and that Hamas wants to see progress.
Palestinian anger has flared further since Israel and the United Arab Emirates last Thursday agreed to normalise relations, a move many Palestinians saw as a betrayal of their cause by the Gulf country.
Despite anger on the streets of Gaza following the deal's announcement, Saada said Hamas was not looking to make trouble over the pact.
"Hamas knows the agreement could not have happened without the blessing of (UAE allies) Saudi Arabia and Egypt," the professor said.
"And Hamas is not interested in having a strained relationship with the Egyptian-Saudi camp."
Hamas is primarily concerned with economic progress in Gaza right now, he added.
The poverty rate in the strip is above 50 percent, according to the World Bank, and is expected to climb higher because of the impact of the novel coronavirus pandemic.