Maan News Agency

Haniyeh sent message to Netanyahu via Gershon Baskin

Ismail Haniyeh. Benjamin Netanyahu

Ismail Haniyeh. Benjamin Netanyahu

BETHLEHEM (Ma’an) — The prime minister of the Hamas-run government in Gaza sent a secret message to his Israeli counterpart asking to avoid military action in response to rocket fire, Israeli media reported Tuesday.

Ismail Haniyeh’s office denied the report by the Hebrew-language news site Walla.

According to Walla, Haniyeh sent his message to Netanyahu two weeks ago via Israeli mediator Gershon Baskin who had previously organized a secret back channel between Israel and Hamas that resulted in a prisoner exchange for a captured soldier.

The message, according to Walla, read that Hamas was not seeking confrontation with Israel.

It said Haniyeh’s adviser, Ghazi Hamad, talked to Baskin via telephone from inside the prime minister’s office and with his knowledge. Baskin then delivered the message to the director of Netanyahu’s office, Gil Shapir, in writing, it said.

The report claims that a few days later, Hamas redeployed its forces along the border with Israel after those forces were withdrawn following military attacks on Hamas targets in the Gaza Strip.

Israel then explained that move amounted to a green light by Hamas to other factions in the Gaza Strip to fire missiles at Israeli towns facing the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu’s office declined to comment on the report, Walla said.

However, the report noted that there had been indirect communications between Israel and Hamas, not only through Baskin, but also through the Egyptian intelligence.

Baskin did not immediately return calls seeking comment.

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