Israel met protests with lethal force, killing at least 136 Palestinians (AFP/file photo)
A Qatari diplomat working behind the scenes to ease tensions near the fence separating Israel and Gaza suggested that Palestinians would stop protests and sending incendiary kites across the fence if Israel were to allow in 5,000 Gazans on work permits.
Qatari envoy Mohammed Al-Emadi floated the idea during an interview with Israeli public broadcaster Kane on Sunday.
Israeli and Hamas officials had no immediate comment on the proposal.
Tensions have soared in Gaza since 30 March, when Israel met largely peaceful mass protests near the fence separating Israel from Gaza with lethal force, killing at least 136 Palestinians. There have been no Israeli fatalities.
Israel: For three years now, Muhammad al-Amadi has served as an intermediary between Israel and Hamas on behalf of Qatar. In a special interview, he says that bringing in 5,000 workers from Gaza to Israel will put an end to the kites and burning balloons. 08-07-2018 pic.twitter.com/aRzro6PioR
— Rowan Van Dijk (@Lastkombo) July 8, 2018
Gaza is controlled by the Islamist militant group Hamas. Israel, citing security concerns, restricts movement of goods and people across the border. The Gazans sending kites over the fence believe they have found an effective new weapon.
Al-Emadi said that were Israel to let in workers from the Gaza Strip, where much of the population lives in poverty, the border protests and kite attacks may cease.
"It could start for example with 5,000 people in Gaza who would work in Israel. That is good. That would stop the protests, the fires, the kites and the balloons," Al-Emadi said.
Al-Emadi, who said he has mediated between the sides when things get tense, added that there was no significant progress in efforts to secure the release of Israelis who are missing or being held prisoner in Gaza.
Israel has demanded the return of two Israeli civilians who it says crossed into Gaza and are being held by Hamas, as well as the bodies of two soldiers who were killed in a 2014 war. Hamas says it is holding them but does not give any details.