Hamas has decided to scale back the violent weekly protests along Gaza’s border with Israel in an effort to bring down the number of casualties among the protesters, the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported on Thursday.
A Palestinian source in the Gaza Strip told Al-Hayat that the organization had made its decision after being pressured by a delegation of senior Egyptian intelligence officials that arrived in Gaza on Tuesday to mediate a cease-fire agreement between Israel and the Gaza rulers. The decision was made before two long-range rockets were fired from Gaza into Israel on Wednesday, one of which demolished a family home in Beersheba.
Hamas has denied any responsibility for the rocket attacks.
The newspaper reported that the Egyptian officials had persuaded Hamas to de-escalate the tensions with Israel after a Hamas operative was killed in a retaliatory Israeli missile strike on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, reports on Wednesday that suggested that Egypt had brokered a cease-fire between Israel and Hamas were not corroborated by Egyptian or Israeli officials.
The Palestinian Maan news agency reported that Egyptian officials who are visiting Gaza in efforts to mediate a long-term truce teamed with UN Middle East envoy Nickolay Mladenov and held urgent meetings with the Palestinian factions in Gaza.
Egyptian intelligence official Ahmed Abdel Khalek, who heads the delegation, was able to convince the Gazan groups to halt their fire, the report said.