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Hamas to stop launching explosive balloons at Israel in exchange for easing Gaza blockade: reports Open in fullscreen

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Hamas to stop launching explosive balloons at Israel in exchange for easing Gaza blockade: reports

Israel is reportedly 'skeptical' of Hamas' message [Getty]

Date of publication: 14 February, 2020

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Hamas reportedly sent a message to Israel stating it will stop firing the projectiles in exchange for easing the crippling blockade on the Gaza Strip.
Hamas has told Israel that it plans to "unilaterally" stop launching explosive balloons and rockets in exchange for an end to retaliatory sanctions, according to Israeli media reports on Thursday.

The Islamist group's message was transmitted amid weeks of unrest in the occupied Palestinian territories after last month's announcement of US President Donald Trump's Middle East peace plan

At least eight rockets or mortars were fired from the Gaza Strip, which is ruled by Hamas, towards Israel since Trump's 'Deal of the Century'.

An Israeli defence official told Haaretz Israel is "skeptical" of Hamas' message, adding that the next few days "will serve as a test of this stability".

"If the quiet is maintained, Israel will once again expand the fishing zone to 15 nautical miles," he said to Haaretz.

Last week, explosive projectiles launched from Gaza were met with Israeli airstrikes and maritime sanctions.

The official added that 500 permits for Gaza businessmen to enter Israel would also be reinstated.

Also on Thursday, AFP reported balloons with explosives attached to them were launched from Gaza by "masked young Palestinian men".

Israel blamed Hamas for the balloons, though the floating explosives stopped after both sides "reached secret agreements to slightly ease the blockade in exchange for calm", according to AFP.

On Sunday, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned that Israel would "not accept any aggression from Gaza" and is "prepared to take devastating action against the terrorist organisations" in the Strip.

The use of explosives tied to balloons and kites originated during the 2018 Gaza protests, according to AFP. The weapons would float across the Israeli-Gazan border and cause thousands of fires on Israeli soil.

The Gaza Strip has been under a crippling Israeli blockade since 2007.

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