In Brief: Israel-Hamas ceasefire deal reached after weeks of Gaza balloon attacks

Hamas, the Gaza-based terror group, announced on Monday night that they had agreed a ceasefire with Israel. Shortly after Hamas’s statement, Israel’s military liaison to the Palestinians tacitly confirmed the agreement, saying it would reopen the border crossing, including to fuel deliveries, as well as the Gaza fishing zone to the full 15-nautical-mile limit. “This decision will be tested on the ground: If Hamas, which is responsible for all actions that are taken in the Gaza Strip, will fail to meet its obligations, Israel will act accordingly,” said a statement released by Israel. The agreement comes after a month of violence. Beginning on 6 August, terrorists in the Strip began launching dozens of balloon-borne incendiary and explosive devices into southern Israel each day, sparking dozens of fires that burned many acres of Israeli land and caused property damage. Prior to the ceasefire, sporadic rocket attacks have struck Gaza-adjacent communities, causing damage to homes and light injuries. In response to the balloon attacks and the rockets, the IDF conducted near-nightly attacks on Hamas sites in Gaza since 12 August, bombing both above- and below-ground facilities. On 16 August, Israel also halted the transfer of all goods, save for food and humanitarian aid, into the enclave and barred Palestinians from fishing off the Gaza coast. According to Hamas’s statement, the agreement between the two sides was brokered by Qatari envoy Mohammad al-Emadi. United Nations Special Coordinator for the Middle East Peace Process Nickolay Mladenov hailed the ceasefire, saying: “I welcome the agreement to de-escalate tensions in and around Gaza. Ending the launching of incendiary devices and projectiles, restoring electricity will allow UN to focus on dealing with the COVID-19 crisis.” Read full article