A top Hamas leader told French television on Tuesday that while the Palestinian Islamist group “is not aiming for war,” it will continue to “fight for freedom out of a desire to rid [our nation] of the occupation.”
Khaled Mashaal, the political bureau chief of the organization ruling the Gaza Strip, was quoted as saying that the current wave of Palestinian violence against Israel – which he termed “an intifada” – comprised “defensive resistance” in light of “Israeli aggression.”
“The situation in Gaza has become tense at times,” Mashaal said. “We are not aiming for war, but we are a nation that is fighting for its freedom and wants to be rid of the occupation.”
The Hamas leader spoke shortly before a Gazan rocket exploded in an uninhabited area of the Sha'ar Hanegev regional council on Monday night. The rocket did not trigger warning sirens as its trajectory took it to an open area, security sources said.
On Friday night, terrorists in Gaza fired several rockets at southern Israel, setting off warning sirens in Sderot and Sha'ar Hanegev Council. The IDF said the rockets exploded in uninhabited areas, failing to cause injuries or damages.
In response, the Israel Air Force bombed four Hamas terrorist targets in northern Gaza, the IDF Spokesman Unit said.
Following the strikes, Palestinian medical sources said fragments from a missile fired by an Israeli aircraft killed a 10-year-old Palestinian boy and his six-year-old sister in Beit Lahiya, in the northern end of the Strip.
Islamic State-affiliated Salafi jihadist organizations are behind all of the rocket and border border bomb incidents in the past year and a half, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot told a Tel Aviv security conference in January.
“All of these groups challenge Hamas and seek to activate fire against us,” he said during a conference hosted by the Institute for National Security Studies.Reuters contributed to this report