HAMAS, ISLAMIC JIHAD: ‘WE’RE CLOSE TO OPEN WAR WITH ISRAEL’
The warning came as leaders of the two Palestinian groups continued their discussions in Cairo with senior Egyptian intelligence officials on ways of ending the current round of fighting with Israel.
Defiant Hamas and Islamic Jihad officials said on Sunday that they don’t rule out the possibility that the current round of fighting in the Gaza Strip could lead to an all-out war with Israel.
The warning came as leaders of the two Palestinian groups continued their discussions in Cairo with senior Egyptian intelligence officials on ways of ending the current round of fighting with the Jewish state.
Unconfirmed reports on Sunday evening claimed that Hamas has indicated its readiness for a ceasefire with Israel. Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip did not comment on the reports.
Islamic Jihad spokesman Musab al-Braim said that the “resistance was on the threshold of a new phase in repelling the [Israeli] aggression that could lead to an open war.” He said that in light of the continued “aggression on our people and the targeting of children, houses and the implementation of the policy of assassinations, we are on the threshold of this phase, and we will not have mercy on this enemy.”
Ahmed al-Mudalal, a senior Islamic Jihad official, said that the “current Zionist escalation on the Gaza Strip is a serious attempt to break the will of the Palestinian people and divert attention from the March of Return [weekly protests near the border with Israel].”
Mudalal warned that the Palestinian terror groups will not stand idly by toward the “Zionist aggression against the Palestinian people, and have the full right to respond to these attacks.”
In a statement issued on Sunday evening, Islamic Jihad said that it was ready to wage an “open confrontation” with Israel. It said that the continuation of Israeli military strikes “will be met with a similar and large-scale response” targeting all Israel.
In a separate statement, Islamic Jihad announced that six of its men were killed in Israeli military strikes in the past few hours. It identified the men as Mahmoud Subhi Issa, 26; Fawzi Abdel Halim Bawadi, 24; Bilal Mohammed al-Banna, 28; Abdullah Nofal Abu al-Ata, 21; Mohammed Abdel al-Nabi Abu Armaneh, 32; and Mahmoud Samir Abu Armaneh, 27.
Israel’s threats against the Palestinian “resistance don’t scare us,” said Mushir al-Masri, a senior Hamas official. “We are confident that the resistance is capable of teaching the enemy harsh and painful lessons.”
Israel, he added, will not “see security as long as the blockade, sanctions and aggression continue.”
The Hamas official called on the Palestinian Authority to lift the sanctions it imposed on the Gaza Strip about two years ago.
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum held Israel fully responsible for the “consequences of its crimes and violations against the Palestinians and failure to implement the recent Egyptian-sponsored ceasefire understandings. “The resistance won’t allow Israel to repeat its crimes and will continue to defend the Palestinian people,” Barhoum said.
Another Hamas official, Fathi Kar’awi, condemned the “cowardly” Israeli military strikes against the Gaza Strip and called on the international community to hold Israel to account for its “crimes against the people of the Gaza Strip.”
Meanwhile, Palestinian political analyst Hassan Lafi told the Islamic Jihad-affiliated Palestine Today news site that by resorting to targeted assassinations in the Gaza Strip, Israel could pave the way for a new stage that may lead to an open war. Israel, he said, has “changed the rules of engagement that followed the 2014 war” – a reference to Operation Protective Edge. Lafi, however, said he believes that Israel’s decision to resume targeted assassinations “proves that it wants to end this round of escalation quickly.”