BEIRUT — Leaders of the Palestinian Islamic Jihad group and Fatah officials held a rare meeting in the Gaza Strip on Monday evening as efforts for reconciliation between different Palestinian factions intensified this month in Turkey and Egypt.
According to a joint statement, Islamic Jihad political bureau member Khaled al-Batsh and Fatah central committee member Ahmad Halas discussed ways to strengthen bilateral relations and defend the Palestinian cause.
The statement read that the two sides “agreed to continue these meetings in a way that contributes to strengthening bilateral relations between the members and leaders of the two movements in confronting the occupation, restoring the unity of our Palestinian people, strengthening their resistance and preserving the legitimate rights of the Palestinian people.”
Last month, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, who is also the leader of Fatah, called for an inter-Palestinian meeting in Cairo to end the division that has been ongoing for 17 years. The rival factions that attended the meeting in Cairo, including Hamas, agreed to form a reconciliation committee to continue talks to end the split. The Islamic Jihad boycotted the meeting, calling on the PA to release its members held prisoner by its security forces.
Tensions are rising between the armed factions and the PA, which has intensified its crackdown against Islamic Jihad members in the West Bank, even as Israeli raids are escalating in the West Bank.
Islamic Jihad spokesperson Daoud Shehab said in a statement last month that 10 of the group’s members were arrested by Palestinian security forces following Israel’s raid on the Jenin refugee camp in the northern West Bank.
Israeli forces entered the camp in early July to arrest wanted Palestinians. The raid was met with fierce resistance from armed militants inside the camp. Israel responded with drones and rare airstrikes. More than 10 Palestinians were killed in the raid, one of the largest death tolls in years.
The camp has become a hotbed of Palestinian armed groups that blame the PA and its security coordination with Israel for the rise of Israeli settler attacks and Israeli raids inside West Bank cities and towns. Several other groups have also emerged across the West Bank and are carrying out attacks on Israeli checkpoints and settlements.
Hamas says it captured Israeli drone
On Tuesday, the so-called Al-Ayyash Battalion — reportedly named after Hamas bomb maker Yahya Ayyash, who was killed by Israel in 1996 — reportedly launched a rocket toward an Israeli settlement. The group said on its Telegram channel that the rocket was fired from Jenin toward the Shaked settlement in the northern West Bank.
The Israeli army said the rocket failed to launch and exploded on site.
Earlier on Tuesday, two Palestinians were killed in an Israeli raid on the Aqabat Jabr refugee camp near the West Bank city of Jericho. The Palestinian Health Ministry identified the victims as 16-year-old Qusay al-Walaji and 25-year-old Mohammed Nujoom.
Separately, Al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’ military wing, claimed to have captured an Israeli drone in the Gaza Strip. In a Tuesday statement on its website, the brigades said it seized a K1 Orbiter drone while on a reconnaissance mission in Gazan airspace. The Israeli press reported the drone crashed in the neighborhood of al-Zaytoun, east of Gaza City, due to a “technical malfunction.”