U.S. envoy tours Israel-Gaza Border with Israeli army

PNN / Bethlehem

US Special Representative for International Negotiations, Jason Greenblatt on Sunday visited the Gaza-Israel border accompanied by the Israeli army.

During the tour, Greenblatt visited tunnels dug by Hamas and Islamic Jihad, and closed by Israeli military operations, criticising them as showing ‘Hamas’ continued exploitation of the people of Gaza and Hamas’ threats to stability and security in the region’.

In a twitter post following the tour, Greenblatt claimed that ‘Hamas wastes resources on tunnels & rockets to attack Israel, instead of helping the people of Gaza by getting the lights on, the water flowing & the economy growing.’

‘Hamas spews hateful rhetoric & foments a vicious cycle of violence. Gaza deserves better!’ he added.

Greenblatt also called on Hamas to refocus its humanitarian efforts and to defuse tensions with Israel and Egypt.

Tight power rationing and poor sanitary conditions brought about by a joint Israeli-Egyptian blockade that has gripped the Mediterranean enclave for more than a year were highlighted as the main humanitarian concern.

Amidst reconciliation efforts late last year between rival factions Hamas and Fatah, the border crossing between Egypt and the Gaza Strip was opened for 4 days to facilitate travel for humanitarian purposes only. Since then, the crossing remains closed.

Operation of the crossing had been transferred to Fatah for the first time since 2007, when Hamas seized power amidst tense clashes.

Over 30,000 Gazans applied for access to Egypt after Fatah assumed control of the border.

Areas along of the border with Israel have been the site of recent protests following Trump’s decision to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem. Clashes between Israeli forces and protesters cost the lives of numerous Gazans, including a paraplegic who’s death sparked outrage and an internal investigation by the Israeli military.

In a statement to the U.S. General Consulate in Jerusalem, Greenblatt said he ‘(looked) forward to the Government of Israel presenting various upcoming projects and policy measures’ at any upcoming meeting in Brussels.

The meeting of the Ad Hoc Liaison Committee was convened by the Norwegian Foreign Minster and the EU High Representative. The 15-member council is chaired by Norway and aims to coordinate developmental assistance to Palestine.

The committee is co-sponsored by the United States and the European Union.

The upcoming meeting was convened to address humanitarian issues in Gaza and the West Bank, as well as stalled negotiations between Fatah and Hamas following the Cairo Agreement last October.

The meeting will take place on the 31st of January.