Attacks on Gaza continued on Tuesday for the seventh straight night as Israeli warplanes targeted Hamas observation posts in what the Israeli army said was a response to Palestinian fire balloon attacks across the border. Meanwhile, the head of Israel’s foreign intelligence service has visited the United Arab Emirates (UAE) for security talks.
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen visited the UAE just days after the countries agreed to establish diplomatic ties, where he discussed “cooperation in the fields of security” with the UAE’s national security adviser, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al Nahyan on Tuesday.
Cohen’s trip to Abu Dhabi marked the first visit to the UAE by an Israeli official after the announcement last week that the two countries had agreed to normalise relations.
As part of the deal, Israel agreed to suspend the annexation of territories in the occupied West Bank, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said he had only agreed to a ‘delay’ and that the controversial plan was still under consideration.
Palestinians protested against the deal, seeing it as a betrayal of their cause by a major player in the Arab world, which has broadly held that normal ties with Israel are only possible once the conflict with the Palestinians is resolved. The UAE is only the third Arab State, after Egypt and Jordan, to sign a peace deal with Israel. LINK
Meanwhile, in Palestine the Israeli air force continued to pound Gaza for the seventh straight day even as visiting Egyptian security officials strove to defuse the latest round of violence.
“Fighter jets and [other] aircraft struck underground infrastructures belonging to Hamas in the Gaza Strip,” an Israeli military statement said, linking the attack to “explosive and arson balloons launched from the Gaza Strip into Israel”.
Gaza security sources and witnesses said Tuesday’s raids hit Hamas lookout posts at Rafah in the south of the territory and Beit Lahia in the north.
Tensions have been high for more than a week, with Israel accusing Hamas of firing rockets and launching bundles of balloons across the border fitted with incendiary or explosive devices.
Israel has closed the Karem Abu Salem (Kerem Shalom) goods crossing with the Gaza Strip, imposed a ban on fishing off the Gaza coast and staged nightly air raids for seven consecutive nights.
A Hamas source told AFP news agency that the group held talks with the Egyptian delegation in Gaza on Monday before the delegation left for meetings with the Israelis and the occupied West Bank-based Palestinian Authority. It was expected to return to Gaza after those talks, the source added.
No casualties have been reported from the latest night of air raids.
Despite a truce that was negotiated last year – and backed by Egypt, Qatar and the UN – tensions between Hamas and Israel have not abated.
Hamas says Israel has not honoured previous understandings which stipulated that Israel ease the blockade it has imposed on Gaza since 2007 and allowed for large-scale projects to help revive the collapsing economy. Egypt has collaborated in Israel’s blockade against Gaza, sealing off Gaza’s only other border with the outside world.
The only power plant in Gaza shut down on Tuesday due to Israel’s cutting of fuel supplies, exacerbating the power crisis and leaving Gaza’s two million residents with about four hours of electricity a day. LINK
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