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Hamas puts the ball in Israel's court

The leaders of Hamas have indicated that the time for waiting is over as pressure continues to build in Gaza, leaving Israel to have to choose between the risk of war and its unknown consequences and finally reaching a long-term arrangement with the movement.
An Israeli soldier stands near a staging area near the border with Gaza, in southern Israel November 14, 2019. REUTERS/ Ronen Zvulun - RC21BD9513VS
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An Egyptian delegation arrived in Gaza Feb. 10 for a meeting with Hamas' leadership. Heading the delegation was Gen. Ayman Badia, deputy head of Egyptian Intelligence, and among the participants was Ahmad Abu Halaq, who holds the Palestinian portfolio at the same branch. It was their first meeting with the Hamas leadership since a crisis erupted between the two parties after Hamas political bureau chief Ismail Haniyeh attended the funeral of Gen. Qasem Soleimani in Iran last month against Cairo's wishes. Haniyeh has not yet returned to Gaza, and it is unknown when the Egyptians will let him reenter.

The meeting took place in the office of Yahya Sinwar, Hamas' leader in Gaza, but Sinwar did not attend. According to reports from Gaza, the movement’s most senior political and military officials are worried about possible Israeli assassination attempts. In Israel that same day at an assessment by the Israel Defense Forces' Gaza Division, Defense Minister Naftali Bennett said, “The haphazard behavior of the Hamas leadership brings us closer to taking lethal action against them.… No one will be immune.” Hamas leaders took his words to be a threat against their lives in response to ongoing rocket fire into Israel.

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