The remains of the car that was hit last week in Gaza..
(photo credit: SAID KHATIB / AFP)
The IDF apparently attempted to plant listening devices during the botched IDF raid in Khan Yunis last week, a senior Hamas official said Saturday.
“The enemy was carrying various devices that they wanted to plant to be a burden on our people,” senior Hamas official Khalil al-Hayya said in an interview with Al-Aqsa TV, adding that the commandos had been “trying to record a security achievement in a clear violation of the 2014 ceasefire agreement.”
“Israel thought Gaza was a safe place, and that it could sabotage it at any time it desires, but entering Gaza and undermining its security are forbidden,” al-Hayya continued, adding that Egypt and the United Nations mediators “knew it was the occupation that violated the understandings. Israel asked to stop the escalation from the start, because it knew it was the one to initiate the crime.”
The botched IDF raid last Sunday night led to the death of an elite IDF officer
and six Hamas militants including Khan Yunis commander Nur Barakeh.
According to reports in Gaza, Barakeh returned home north of Khan Yunis when he noticed a “suspicious” Volkswagen parked outside his window. He questioned the passengers in car, including two IDF officers who were dressed in women’s clothing. When he was unsatisfied with their answers, weapons were drawn and a firefight broke out.
Images shared on social media showed what was left of the Volkswagen as well as gear which the commandos abandoned as they withdrew to Israel.
Following the raid, Hamas and Islamic Jihad fired close to 500 mortars and rockets into Israel, killing one man and injuring close to a hundred others.
On Saturday night, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar warned Israel “not to test us again,” saying that the group’s missile arsenal has become more precise with a greater range, and can carry a bigger payload than older missiles.
“The Israeli enemy has understood that our calm in recent years was not meaningless,” he said at a ceremony commemorating the militants who were killed in the IDF raid, adding that in the latest round of fighting, “the rocket fire was measured but in larger numbers and with much more powerful warheads.”
Pulling out a Glock pistol – equipped with a silencer which he said had been abandoned by the commandos and given to him by the leader of Hamas’s military wing the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades, Muhammad Deif – Sinwar warned that the next rocket barrage would target Tel Aviv and that it would “surprise” Israel.
“Our hands are on the trigger and our eyes are open... Whoever tests Gaza will find only death and poison,” he said.
“Deif asked me to say that Tel Aviv and [the greater Tel Aviv area of] Gush Dan are next. The first barrage to hit Tel Aviv will surprise Israel,” Sinwar warned, adding that the next time IDF troops enter the coastal enclave they would only return in a prisoner exchange.
“This time, you managed to leave with dead and wounded; next time we will release our prisoners from the jails and there will even be soldiers left in our hands,” he said.
According to al-Hayya, a prisoner exchange between Israel and Hamas must include Jerusalem releasing the terrorists who were re-arrested after they were released as part of the 2011 Shalit deal.
“The occupation is the one that places obstacles in the way of approving an exchange deal and wants to sell illusions to the families of the imprisoned soldiers... It is not willing to complete the deal and no real progress on the matter was achieved,” he said.
Earlier Saturday, a senior Israeli military source denied reports that a deal had been reached with Hamas which would see the return of the remains of Lt. Hadar Goldin and Sgt. Oron Shaul who were killed in the 2014 war in Gaza.
Hamas is also believed to be holding two Israeli citizens – Abera Mengistu, an Ethiopian-Israeli, and Hisham al-Sayed, a Bedouin. Both men suffer from psychiatric disorders and voluntarily crossed into the Gaza Strip.
Mengistu and al-Sayed have been missing for three years and their cases are viewed by Israel as a humanitarian issue unrelated to the cases of Goldin and Shaul – but Israel has made it clear that they hold Hamas responsible for the two.
The militant terrorist organization has attempted to use all four as bargaining chips in negotiations for prisoner releases.
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