Reports Friday said that an Egyptian delegation visited Gaza Thursday and promised Hamas that the $15 million in Qatari money that Israel has held up will be delivered to the terror group next week – if the riots on the Gaza border Friday were not too serious. The money could be delivered as soon as Sunday, the Egyptians told Hamas.
Israeli security officials were preparing for mass riots on Friday, after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu announced earlier this week that Israel would not allow the third installment of Qatari cash to be transferred to Gaza. The decision came in the wake of a Hamas attack early Monday, in which the terror group fired a rocket at Ashkelon.
That decision followed a night in which thousands of residents of southern Israel were roused from their sleep by the Red Alert alarm system, the first time in weeks that this has happened. Israel responded by hitting Hamas targets in Gaza.
The ramping up of terror that occurred in November and December was resolved in part by the decision by Israel to allow $60 million in Qatari cash to be transferred to Hamas via Gaza border crossings. So far, $30 million of that money has been transferred.
In the wake of Netanyahu’s decision Monday, the IDF was ramping up security and security forces in southern Israel, as it was likely that Hamas would conduct more attacks.
Security officials were expecting some 15,000 people to show up at the border Friday, participating in the riots by throwing rocks and firebombs at Israeli soldiers, and attempting to breach the border fence. Security personnel in the Gaza border zone were also on alert for a resurgence of “fire terror,” expecting Hamas terrorists to fly incendiary balloons at Israeli targets.
B’chasdei Shamayim, because of recent heavy rains, the ground and trees in the region are very moist, which officials hope will enable them to easily contain fires that do break out.
In order to lessen the tension, Israel has asked Egypt to reopen the Rafiach crossing, which had been closed earlier this week, Arab media reported. The crossing was closed after the Palestinian Authority withdrew its representatives from the crossing, with Hamas taking over their positions. A report on Army Radio said that Egyptian officials were in Israel and Gaza on Thursday, attempting to stem the potential unrest.