Israel eases up some restrictions in Gaza

Nov. 25, 2012 at 8:01 AM
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JERUSALEM, Nov. 25 (UPI) -- Days after a truce between Israel and Hamas, Israel eased up restrictions on Gaza fishermen while Hamas officials vowed to rearm with weapons from Iran.

Egyptian Intelligence Chief Ra'afat Shehada told Hamas Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh fishermen in Gaza are permitted to sail up to 6 nautical miles from the coast instead of 3 miles, Haaretz reported Sunday. Nazar Ayesh, chairman of Gaza's fishermen's union, called the decision insufficient, saying the limit should be extended to 20 miles, the Israeli daily said.

Senior Hamas official Mahmoud a-Zahar Saturday said Hamas intends to continue procuring weapons with Iran's support.

"We have no choice but to continue to bring in weapons by all possible means. We have the right to take money and weapons from Iran. They [Iran] gave us for the sake of God, no conditions attached, and I am witness to that," the Palestinian Ma'an News Agency quoted him as saying.

Ezat Risheq, a member of Hamas' political bureau, said the understandings that led to a cease-fire did not stipulate stopping the arms flow into Gaza, The Jerusalem Post reported. Risheq said reports that Israel, along with Egypt and the United States, will monitor the situation to prevent arms reaching Gaza are "untrue," the newspaper said.

U.S. and Egyptian efforts secured the truce last week between Israel and Hamas, bringing an end to Operation Pillar of Defense in which six Israelis and more than 160 Palestinians in Gaza were killed and dozens injured during the eight-day operation.

An unnamed Israeli official rejected Hamas' claims, saying it was clear Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza would rearm. He said "it was equally clear" the United States would lead efforts to combat such efforts, the Post said.

The British newspaper The Sunday Times reported Israeli spy satellites identified a cargo ship docked at the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas being loaded with weapons and munitions as well as Fajr 5 missiles apparently heading for Gaza. The report said Iran began preparing the shipment last week at the start of discussions for a cease-fire.

Israeli and Egyptian officials will meet Monday in Cairo to discuss other steps to be taken by Israel in accordance with the cease-fire understandings, Israel Radio said.

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