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Tensions ease in Gaza

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Tensions ease in Gaza

For months, Israel has tried to quell Gaza's border protests through force. Now Israel is taking a different approach, easing a blockade and allowing millions of dollars in aid to flow into Gaza, the impoverished enclave controlled by Hamas, its bitter foe, writes the Editorial commentator of The New York Times. The aim of the change, in a plan mediated by Egypt and with money supplied by Qatar, is to provide much-needed relief for Gaza, restore calm on the Israeli side of the border and avert another war. The clashes along Gaza's border have caused misery on both sides: At least 170 Palestinians have been killed, and thousands of acres of Israeli farmland have been torched. But the change in Israel's approach presents risks for leaders on both sides, pressures that could doom even this limited warming of relations. Watching unhappily is the Palestinian Authority, which regards any hint of cooperation between Israel and Hamas as virtually an existential crisis and, many in Israel believe, would welcome a new Gaza war. Since last month, tanker trucks have rolled in from Israel every day with diesel fuel to operate a second turbine at Gaza's sole power plant. The added power generation has sharply increased the daily electricity supply from just a few hours to 12 hours or more - helping families, hospitals, businesses and, not least, sewage treatment plants. Taken together, the de-escalation moves look like a straightforward, simple transaction - one meant to ease tensions that had risen to the boiling point and seemed to presage a full-fledged war between Israel and Hamas. But there was nothing simple about those steps, which required the efforts of Egypt, Qatar, the United Nations and others. And while the parties are clearly acting in their self-interest, they are doing so in the face of serious political risks. — The New York Times

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