By Khaled Abu Toameh, JPost—
Israel and Hamas are headed toward another round of fighting, as international mediators appear to have failed to achieve a breakthrough on bringing Qatari aid money to the Gaza Strip and on the easing of Israeli restrictions, Palestinians warned on Sunday.
Israel’s failure to ease restrictions and facilitate the reconstruction of homes destroyed during the 11-day war with Hamas in May means that the countdown for another military confrontation has begun, the Palestinians said.
Several Palestinian factions are scheduled to hold a meeting on Monday in Gaza to discuss their next moves in the absence of a solution to the delivery of the Qatari grants to some 100,000 Palestinian families.
The factions have rejected Israel’s demand to link the easing of restrictions to a prisoner exchange deal. Hamas has been holding the bodies of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul since 2014. In addition, Hamas is holding two Israeli citizens who entered the Gaza Strip on their own in 2014 and 2015.
The Palestinian Authority insists that its Ramallah-based government should be the only party responsible for the delivery of the Qatari funds and the reconstruction work in the Gaza Strip.
Palestinian banks, however, have reportedly refused to transfer the money to Gaza for fear of being exposed to lawsuits for funding terrorism.
Sources close to Hamas said that the mediators recently discussed the possibility of transferring the aid money through the United Nations.
“The Palestinian factions are very close to reaching a decision to escalate the situation along the border with Israel,” the sources said, noting that Hamas was not opposed to the UN playing a role in the transfer of the Qatari funds or the reconstruction work. Continue Reading….