Yahya Sinwar arrives at the Rafah crossing between Egypt and Gaza on October 18, 2011, after being released by Israel as part of a prisoner swap for kidnapped soldier Gilad Schalit.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Gaza has an army that can be relied upon, Hamas chief in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar said on Tuesday.
His comment came during a meeting between Hamas leaders and tribal and local leaders in Gaza.
“We would like to assure you that you have, by the glory of God, an army in the Gaza Strip upon which you can rely and depend,” Sinwar said in rare televised remarks. “The resistance is well. The resistance is very well.”
A number of armed groups – including Izzadin Kassam, Hamas’s military wing; and Saraya al-Quds, Islamic Jihad’s armed wing – together have thousands of fighters based in Gaza and have fought Israel in three wars over the past decade.
Sinwar suggested that the armed groups in Gaza have substantially increased their arsenals since the 2014 Gaza war.
“The resistance can hit... the entity [Israel] in 51 minutes today with what it hit it with in 51 days,” he said, referring to the 2014 Gaza war (Operation Protective Edge), which lasted 51 days.
According to the IDF, terrorists in the Gaza Strip fired 4,591 projectiles at Israel during the 2014 war.
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However, Sinwar added that “we absolutely do not mean that we want a war or are rushing to a war,” and suggested that certain issues could be resolved through popular protest and diplomacy.
“We fully realize that there are some issues that can be resolved through popular resistance, that there are some issues that can be resolved through diplomacy and that there are other issues that can be resolved in other ways,” Sinwar said.
Over the past year, Hamas officials have frequently stated they do not want a new war with Israel.
But they have said armed factions in Gaza have not stopped preparing for one.
Later in his remarks, Sinwar also called for Palestinian reconciliation and the end of the division between the West Bank and Gaza.
“Today we need to make steps to arrange the Palestinian house,” he said.
Over the past several weeks, reconciliation efforts between Hamas and Fatah have floundered as the two parties failed to implement an agreement they signed in mid-October to restore the Palestinian Authority’s governing authority in Gaza.
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