Report: Hamas to Suspend Balloon Terror Campaign

YERUSHALAYIM -
Palestinian terrorists during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, last Friday. (Wissam Nassar/Flash90)

Hamas has decided to suspend, “in a gradual manner,” its campaign of balloon and kite terror against southern Israel, a report in the Palestinian Authority Al-Quds newspaper said Wednesday. The report quoted “top PA officials” as confirming the information, which Hamas took in a late-night meeting overnight Tuesday.

The reason for the decision is concern that Israel will undertake more aggressive moves against Hamas as public opinion among Israelis demanding action against the terrorism increases. Hamas is not seeking a major confrontation against Israel at this time, the Al-Quds report said, especially given the difficult condition affecting Gaza right now. Hamas has been talking with Egypt in recent days as a go-between with Israel, the report said, and the Egyptians recommended that Hamas end the terror campaign “in order not to give Israel an excuse to carry out a major campaign in Gaza.”

The report said that Hamas demanded that Israel end its recent campaign of bombing Hamas infrastructure in response to the balloon and kite terror. In return for Hamas’s suspension of the terror campaign, Israel would halt its bombing campaign. The report quoted Hamas sources as saying that the campaign had fulfilled its objective of “causing significant damage to the occupying forces.”

The Hamas decision, if it comes to pass, comes after a weekend in which the terror group fired some 200 rockets at Israeli towns. In response, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman again signed an order closing the Kerem Shalom crossing, the only active crossing through which trucks carrying products and raw materials from Palestinian Authority-controlled areas in Yehudah and Shomron, or from Ashdod Port, are able to enter Gaza. Only “humanitarian aid” will be permitted into Gaza, the order said. Despite that, 26 fires were reported in southern Israel Tuesday, Channel 20 reported.

On Monday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said that Israel had decided to undertake a “significant” action against the Gaza terror group. “We will expand our response as needed,” Netanyahu said in a statement Motzoei Shabbos. “If Hamas does not understand the message in one way, it will understand it in another way. We have struck Hamas the hardest since it has been hit during Operation Protective Edge” in 2014,” he added.