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August 18, 2014 4:13 pm
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Israel Eyeing Hamas ‘Surprises’ if Cairo Talks Fail

avatar by Dave Bender

Hamas Youth training camp. Photo: Breitbart screenshot.

As the clock ticks down to midnight Monday, and the end of a five-day Egyptian-brokered cease-fire, Israeli sources are concerned over possible Hamas “surprises” if talks in Cairo don’t go their way.

“They won’t hesitate to destabilize the situation,” including the use of terror tunnels and even bomb or anti-tank missile – laden drones,” a senior source in the Israeli army’s Southern Command told Israel’s Walla News Monday.

Israeli forces succeeded in discovering and destroying 32 tunnels from Gaza dug underneath Israel during the month-long – so far – Operation Protective Edge, but Hamas says they have more, hidden tunnels prepared.

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“Hamas won’t hesitate to use strategic tools in order to restart talks, or to wreck the situation in Gaza in continuance of an armed conflict,” the source said.

Egyptian sources told Channel 2 that they are seeking an open-ended cease-fire, with hopes of holding talks in a month. Israel wants a total demilitarization of the Strip. Hamas wants the border crossing with Egypt reopened, and to be allowed to build a seaport and airport – demands Israel is dismissing due to security concerns over potential weapons smuggling.

Meanwhile, in Qatar, Palestinian Authority President Mahmud Abbas is expected to meet with Hamas chief Khaled Mashaal, in a last-minute bid to break the tactical deadlock between the Palestinian factions, as well as with Israel, via indirect talks in Cairo.

Closer to home, Israeli Home Front Command officials are cautiously eyeing the situation on the ground, in order to assess whether over a million Israelis living at varying distances from the coastal enclave need to reopen bomb shelters, shutter schools and commerce, and limit public gatherings.

Israeli Railways, in a proactive safety measure, on Monday canceled train service to and from the rocket-battered town of Sderot at the Strip’s northern edge, over concerns of potential anti-tank fire on the sole commuter line that serves the region, a spokesman told Army radio. In parallel, bus lines along the same route laid on more vehicles in order to pick up the slack.

Israel, for its part, has already eased some fishing areas off the Gaza coast, and increased the amounts of some of the goods allowed into the 65-kilometer-long coastal strip, according to army and Civilian Authority officials.

Meanwhile, from above, both Israelis and Palestinians wonder if rockets will resume flying out of Gaza, incurring promised Israeli military counter strikes.

“If the fire [from Gaza] resumes, Israel will respond with full force,” a senior Israeli official told Israel Hayom on Monday.

“If fire at Israel is not renewed, it is possible we will enter a state of calm without an agreement. Patience is necessary. The operation is not over and it could take more time. The greater the resilience of the public, the more we will be able to achieve,” according to the official.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Monday met with representatives of youth movements in Sderot that volunteered to work with local children in bomb shelters during the operation, a Prime Minister’s Office statement read.

“The public’s resilience, and yours, gives us considerable strength to use considerable strength,” the PM said at the meeting, attended by Sderot Mayor Alon Davidi.

“We are in the midst of a diplomatic campaign and in a diplomatic campaign, one needs the same thing – one needs much strength, patience, persistence and wisdom as well. And we are in a combined military-diplomatic campaign in which our unity and our steadfastness are what will be victorious,” Netanyahu declared.

“This is what must be understood – much patience is needed here. In the Middle East in which we live it is not enough only to be strong, [and] we are strong, we must also have patience. We do, in abundance, and it is you who prove it. The Eternal People do not fear a long road and the citizens of Israel, and you among them, prove this,” Netanyahu told the volunteers.

Davidi replied, in part, warning that Netanyahu “sent the IDF to defend us, and we hope that anyone who so much as thinks of harming our children will be struck very hard.”

Palestinian terrorists affiliated with Hamas, Fatah and other groups have fired some 3,500 rockets and mortar shells towards Israel during the month-long fighting. 64 soldiers and officers, and three civilians were killed in the fighting.

Palestinian Hamas-affiliated sources said over 2,000 people were killed in Gaza and many more wounded. The Palestinian statistics, however, do not differentiate between non-combatants and arms-carrying terrorists.

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