Hamas demands for cease-fire and Israel’s concerns
JERUSALEM – Hamas rulers have presented a list of demands to stop their fire on Israel in the Gaza war. Israel has said it doesn’t want to reward Hamas for its rocket campaign, but has other reasons to oppose the demands – mostly based on security.
Here’s a look at Hamas’ list of demands and why Israel is unlikely to accept many of them:
• End of the Israeli offensive
Hamas is demanding an “immediate cessation” to Israel’s war against it in Gaza, which has hit thousands of Hamas sites, according to the Israeli military. Israel has agreed to several temporary, humanitarian cease-fires but says it will not halt its fire before ending incessant rocket fire from Gaza and destroying Hamas’ network of tunnels that have been used to infiltrate Israel and carry out attacks.
• The blockade
Breaking the seven-year blockade of Gaza imposed by Israel and Egypt is the primary Palestinian demand.
Hamas wants its crossings with Israel and Egypt reopened, demanding detailed assurances that the flow of goods and people will be resumed. Egypt has sharply restricted travel in and out of Gaza over the past year, following last year’s military ouster of the Hamas-allied Muslim Brotherhood and Islamist President Mohammed Morsi. Hamas is wary of Egyptian assurances to ease the blockade. Such promises also were part of a truce that ended more than a week of fighting in 2012, but were not fully implemented.
While Israel has indicated a willingness to ease some of the restrictions, its main fear is that Hamas will use the free flow to rearm itself and restock its weaponry. Israel says construction material that it has allowed into Gaza was used by Hamas not for building schools and homes but rather to construct tunnels.
• The power outage
Even before Gaza’s power plant was forced to shut down after it was struck by tank shells Tuesday, Gaza has only enjoyed sporadic power. Throughout the fighting Gazans receive electricity for about four hours a day, down from 12 hours before.
Israel already supplies Gaza with much of its power needs and though the Palestinians owe Israeli companies hundreds of millions of dollars for electricity, power and other services, this appears to be the area in which Israel would show the most flexibility and would not object to helping restore power.
• Fishing rights
As part of its efforts to break out of its economic isolation, Hamas is demanding that its sea buffer of 3 nautical miles be removed and they be allowed to extend its fishing area to 12 nautical miles. Israel is unlikely to agree since it would have a hard time monitoring movement and preventing arms smuggling. Israel also is wary of allowing vessels from Gaza getting near its offshore oil drilling sites.
• Hamas prisoners
Hamas is demanding Israel release hundreds of Hamas prisoners it rounded up in its broad sweep of the West Bank last month during a search for three missing Israeli teens, whose bodies were found more than two weeks after they disappeared. Dozens had been released in a prisoner exchange in 2011 for captive Israeli soldier Gilad Schalit. Israel says those released in 2011 and later recaptured violated the terms of their release. It is unlikely Israel will release them again.