Despite a flareup of tensions over the weekend, Israel is still determined to reach an agreement on a long-term ceasefire with Hamas. As part of that process, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett is seeking to revive a plan that would see construction of an artificial island off the coast of Gaza, a report on Channel 12 said.
The idea was first floated by Foreign Minister Yisrael Katz several years ago. The island would be built five kilometers out to sea and include a port and cargo terminal, where cargo could be inspected for security purposes before being trucked across a bridge to Gaza. “An artificial island will provide Gaza residents with access to the world, and it could include facilities for power generation or water desalination,” according to Katz. “We could even consider an airport in the future. We have an interest in helping Gaza develop, but we know who Hamas is, and thus we must remain in charge of security,” Katz added.
In a social media post, Katz said he had discussed the idea with Bennett, who approved, and the Defense Minister has asked top IDF officials to examine the feasibility of the plan. The Channel 12 report said that Katz had discussed the idea with American officials, who expressed support.
Lebanese reports Friday said that talks between Israel and Hamas were continuing on an arrangement that would lead to a cessation of rocket attacks on Israel. According to the report, both sides are “serious” about reducing tension, as the Gaza terror group has decided that at this time it needs to worry about the welfare of Gaza residents. The deal would include the return of missing Israelis held by Hamas in exchange for the release of terrorists, and the establishment of a water purification plant in Gaza.