Report: Hamas to Give PA Responsibility for ‘Everything Above Ground’ in Gaza

Palestinian children hold posters of Mohammed Halabi (L), the Gaza director of World Vision, a major US-based Christian NGO, during a protest to support him at Rafah town in the southern Gaza Strip on August 29, 2016. On August 4 an Israeli court charged Halabi, the Gaza director of the …
SAID KHATIB/AFP/Getty

TEL AVIV — Hamas has decided to hand the Palestinian Authority responsibility for “everything above ground” in the Gaza Strip, according to a report Thursday in the London-based international Saudi newspaper Al Hayat.

The report stated that Hamas will allow the Palestinian Authority government complete freedom of action in Gaza and Hamas has received guarantees and is confident that issues remaining in dispute, namely payment of Hamas employees, “will be solved in a manner that will satisfy the movement.”

Upon taking control of the Gaza Strip in 2007, Hamas appointed 42,000 employees to replace the tens of thousands of Palestinian Authority workers who left their positions as the internal Palestinian conflict developed.

On Thursday morning, Hamas politburo leader Ismail Haniyeh announced that his movement had reached a reconciliation deal with a Fatah delegation.

After the breakthrough in Cairo, Arab and Palestinian media reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is expected to visit the Gaza Strip within a month. Fatah official Zakariya al-Agha said the visit, the first in over a decade, would be allowed thanks to the understandings concluded in Cairo with the Fatah movement.

The Palestinian president welcomed the agreement between the two sides and, in a message sent to Egypt’s leadership, thanked President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi for his efforts in achieving Palestinian reconciliation. As part of the agreement, 3,000 policemen will be stationed in the Gaza Strip subordinate to the Palestinian Authority.

The Al Hayat report that Hamas will hand the Palestinian Authority responsibility for everything above the ground in Gaza is significant because Hamas is trying to preserve its terrorist infrastructure, particularly the massive tunnel system that has been built underground in Gaza, as well as weapons caches and workshops, especially those that produce rockets in preparation for a future conflict with Israel.

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