Israel's fighter jets, attack helicopters, and tanks struck a number of Hamas targets. A Qatari envoy arrived in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday bringing financial aid and seeking to ease the Israel-Hamas tensions. — AFP/VNA Photo
GAZA CITY — A Qatari envoy arrived in the Gaza Strip late Tuesday bringing financial aid and seeking to ease the Israel-Hamas tensions that have led to daily Israeli strikes on the Palestinian territory, informed sources said.
Mohammed el-Emadi arrived with $30 million to help the territory of two million people, half of whom live under the poverty line, sources close to the envoy said.
He was expected to meet Hamas officials during the night.
Israel has bombed the Hamas-ruled enclave almost daily since August 6, in response to airborne incendiary devices, called "fire balloons" and, less frequently, rockets launched across the border into Israel.
The fire balloons -- makeshift incendiary devices fitted to inflated balloons, condoms or plastic bags -- have sparked multiple blazes on farmland in southern Israel, causing significant damage to crops.
They are widely seen as an attempt by Hamas to improve the terms of an informal truce under which Israel committed to ease its 13-year blockade in return for calm on the border.
But so far Israel's response has been to tighten the blockade. It has banned Gaza fishermen from going to sea and closed its goods crossing with the territory, prompting the closure of Gaza's sole power plant for want of fuel.
As a result, the Gaza Strip has had electricity, from the Israeli grid, for less than four hours per day.
Hamas on Monday called the closure of the Kerem Shalom crossing a "crime against humanity" and called on the international community and "decision-makers in the region" to "break their silence to bring an end" to the blockade.
An Egyptian delegation has been shuttling between the two sides to try to broker a renewal of the truce, so far without success.
Qatari delegation sources said the Israeli side had told El-Emadi that it is prepared to allow the power station to refuel and to lift its blockade in exchange for a return to calm and an end to the incendiary balloons.
Israel and the Islamist Hamas have fought three wars since 2008.
The latest ceasefire deal stipulates a monthly aid payment from Qatar of $30 million until the end of next month.
The truce also provides for permits for Gazans to work in Israel and financing for Gaza development projects, both measures that would provide some economic relief in the impoverished territory where unemployment exceeds 50 per cent.
Informed sources agree that differences over implementing the economic measures are at the heart of the heightened tension between Israel and Hamas. — AFP