Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a cabinet meeting.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The war of words between Israel and Islamic Jihad in Gaza escalated on Sunday as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned Hamas it was liable for all violence against the Jewish state emanating from the Gaza Strip.
“We hold Hamas responsible for any attack against us launched or organized from the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu told the government at its weekly meeting on Sunday.
He said there were those “who still amuse themselves these days by trying to renew attacks against Israel” and warned that such attacks would be dealt with harshly.
The prime minister spoke in the aftermath of continued threats by Islamic Jihad against Israel and just two weeks after Israel blew up an Islamic Jihad attack tunnel that had been dug into its territory at the southern border.
On Saturday, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Mordechai, the coordinator of government activities in the territories, issued a similar warning in Arabic via a YouTube video
“We are aware of what the Palestinian Islamic Jihad in Gaza is plotting against Israel. It is playing with fire at the expense of the citizens of Gaza, the Palestinian reconciliation [between Fatah and Hamas] and of the region as a whole,” Mordechai said.
Islamic Jihad responded to Mordecai’s letter, stating that such threats from the enemy were a “declaration of war.”
“We have the right to respond to any aggression, including the bombing of the tunnel,” it said.
Nickolay Mladenov, the UN special coordinator for the Middle East peace process, rebuked Islamic Jihad in a message on Twitter.
“The reckless actions and statements of militants in #Gaza risk a dangerous escalation. #Palestinians have embarked on a course to solve the humanitarian crisis in the Strip and bring back the legitimate authorities.
They should not be distracted by extremists,” he said.