Israel has assured Hamas that it “will not launch another war in Gaza,” according to Hamas's Gaza leader Ismail Haniyeh.
Haniyeh made the comments as he addressed Gazans in a speech for the Muslim month of Ramadan, which is marked by fasting and terror attacks.
He said Israel had delivered the message through third parties, which he did not name.
Haniyeh said there are contacts with Israel for extending the “lull” between Israel and Hamas in exchange for reconstruction of Gaza. “In the last Ramadan, the seeds were sown,” he said, “and in this Ramadan, the harvest will take place. Soon, the residents of Gaza will benefit and prosper.”
Haniyeh sounded a conciliatory note regarding Egypt, as well. Cairo has helped improve the humanitarian situation in Gaza, he said, and contacts continue.
Last week, Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas told Al Arabiya that Israel is holding direct talks with Hamas. “In Israel, they want Hamas to have a state, while we have an apartheid state or self-rule,” he complained.
"Hamas is holding direct talks with Israel on different subjects – including the subject of the prisoners and the hudna [lull].”
Education Minister Naftali Bennett said nine days ago that Israel needs “to initiate an international process of rebuilding the Gaza Strip for civil empowerment for civilians."
"Egypt and the Palestinian Authority want conditions to stay bad so we have to fight them [Hamas -ed.] all the time; it's good for them," he explained on Channel 2's Meet the Press.
"We have a great interest in Gaza's civilian reconstruction," he continued. "There are creative solutions for how to stop terror tunnel rebuilding," he said and proposed "freezing Hamas's military benefits, but allowing an unlimited amount of rice [into Gaza]."
Hamas for its part is coming under increasing pressure by Gazans over the slow pace of reconstruction following the war it initiated with Israel. Donor nations have pledged large sums of money, but a mixture of corruption, bureaucracy and Hamas's siphoning of construction materials to rebuild its "terror tunnels" into Israel has meant ordinary Gazans have seen little improvement.