Hamas says Israel 'foot-dragging' over Gaza siege
The Palestinian movement Hamas has warned that the Gaza Strip was "running out of patience" with Israel's ongoing blockade of the Palestinian territory.
"The international community must intervene to commit Israel to lifting the siege and begin rebuilding Gaza before the latter runs out of patience," Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said in a Tuesday statement.
Abu Zuhri denounced what he described as "blackmail" by Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who recently said reconstruction of the war-battered strip would be halted if Hamas began repairing cross-border tunnels destroyed during Israel's recent military onslaught.
Abu Zuhri went on to assert that an August 26 cease-fire deal between Israel and Palestinian factions "has nothing to do with the arms of the resistance."
"Ya'alon's provocative statements show how Israel is dragging its feet vis-à-vis its earlier promises to lift the siege and allow Gaza to rebuild," Abu Zuhri said.
At an October 12 donor conference in Cairo, representatives from 50 countries pledged some $5.4 billion to the Palestinians, half of which was allocated for reconstruction of the devastated Gaza Strip.
During Israel's recent 51-day onslaught, 15,671 housing units were damaged across the coastal enclave, including 2,276 that were totally destroyed, according to official Palestinian figures.
Ceasefire deal not implemented
The Israeli offensive killed more than 2,000 Palestinians, mostly civilians, and more than 11,000 others were injured, according to Palestinian health officials.
The Israeli offensive finally ended on August 26 with the announcement of an indefinite cease-fire agreement.
The truce deal, brokered by Egypt, calls for reopening Gaza's border crossings with Israel, which, if implemented, would effectively end the latter's seven-year blockade of the territory.
This, however, has yet to be implemented.
Since the cease-fire deal was signed almost two months ago, Israel has opened the Kerem Shalom border crossing (linking the Gaza Strip, Egypt and Israel) to limited commercial traffic.
Shortly after the donor conference in Cairo, which was attended by UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, Israel allowed 75 trucks of construction materials into the coastal strip.
Israel's six other crossings with Gaza, however, along with Gaza's Rafah border crossing with Egypt, have remained sealed for the most part.
UN chief pushes for revival of Israel-Palestine talks
Meanwhile, the head of the UN on Monday urged Israel and Palestinians to revive peace talks that have been stalled for months, according to a statement from his office.
UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon met with Israel’s Defense Minister in New York during the minister’s five-day working visit to the US.
“The Secretary-General stressed the vital importance of the Israelis and Palestinians returning to dialogue to resolve their issues. There was no time to lose if hope was to be kept alive,” the statement said.
The US-brokered direct Palestinian-Israeli talks came to a halt in April after Israel failed to honour an earlier promise to release a number of Palestinian prisoners.
Ban also reaffirmed his intention to establish an independent inquiry into the Israeli shelling of schools run by the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees during the recent 51-day offensive against the Gaza Strip.
Six UN schools providing shelter to thousands of displaced Palestinian civilians were targeted by Israeli forces during the onslaught that started July 7.
The UN chief was in Gaza Oct. 14 for an hours-long visit as part of a larger regional tour.