An Islamic Jihad militant attends an anti-Israel rally in Rafah..
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defiant Palestinian groups in the Gaza Strip on Monday warned Israel against launching a military strike on the Hamas-controlled coastal enclave and said they were ready to respond to any “aggression.”
The warning came after a rocket launched from the Gaza Strip hit a private house in Moshav Mishmeret in the Kfar Saba region early Monday, injuring seven people.
The groups said that “all Israeli targets will be under the fire range of the resistance” if Israel launches war on the Gaza Strip.
Noting that the Egyptians were making an effort to prevent a military confrontation between Israel and the Palestinian factions, the groups said that Israel will be “completely surprised by our response.”
Hamas spokesman Fawzi Barhoum warned Israel against carrying out any “foolish” acts against the Gaza Strip. He said that the cost of such any Israeli military operation will “exceed Israel’s estimates.” Israel, the Hamas spokesman added, will face fierce resistance by the Palestinian groups in the Strip.
The armed wings of several Palestinian groups said in separate statements that they would respond with full force to any Israeli military operation.
The Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a Fatah-affiliated group, said that “all options would be open if the occupation carries out any idiotic act against our people.”
The group said that Israel will pay a “heavy price” for any attack on the Gaza Strip. “Our rockets will be fire and hell against the soldiers and settlers,” it cautioned.
The National Resistance Brigades, the armed wing of the PLO’s Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, said that it will not allow Israel to “continue its crimes and will respond with force to any aggression targeting our people.”
Another Gaza-based terrorist group, al-Mujahedeen, said that the Palestinian “resistance” groups were in a state of high alert to fend off any Israeli military operation. “The Zionist enemy is living in a state of confusion and panic reflecting the magnitude of the crisis of their leaders,” the group said. “We will do our utmost to defend our people and respond to any new Zionist aggression.”
Islamic Jihad Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhalah also warned Israel against launching a military operation against the Gaza Strip. Islamic Jihad, he said, will respond with force to any Israeli military strike.
Sources in the Gaza Strip said that the leaders of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and other Palestinian groups have gone underground out of fear of being targeted by Israel in response to Monday morning’s rocket attack on the Kfar Saba region. Hamas has also evacuated most of its offices and security installations in anticipation of an Israeli retaliatory attack.
Several residents of the Gaza Strip expressed deep concern over reports of an impending Israeli military operation.
“People here are very worried,” Mohammed Abdel Hadi, a resident of Gaza City told The Jerusalem Post. “Another war in the Gaza Strip will have disastrous consequences.”
A veteran Palestinian journalist in the Gaza Strip told the Post that some Palestinians were blaming Hamas and the “resistance” groups for dragging the Palestinians towards a “major catastrophe.” The situation in the Gaza Strip, he said, “is already very bad, and the last thing we need now is another war.”
An official with the Palestinian Democratic Union (FIDA) , a small PLO group, said that no Palestinian faction was entitled to decide alone on issues of war and peace. “As the group controlling the Gaza Strip, Hamas has a big responsibility to avoid giving Israel an excuse to launch war on the Palestinian people,” he said. He also criticized Palestinian armed groups for the their “irresponsible handling of rockets” in the Gaza Strip and warned that a war would be “destructive” for the Palestinians living there.
In Ramallah, the Palestinian Authority said that it was following with “deep concern” the latest developments in the Gaza Strip.
The PLO Executive Committee accused Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of seeking to exploit the crisis in the Gaza Strip as part of his election campaign. The committee said that Netanyahu is planning to “escalate the blockade and aggression on our people in the Gaza Strip to force the Palestinians and Arabs to surrender and accept the “deal of the century.” (US President Donald Trump’s unpublished plan for peace in the Middle East).
A PLO official in Ramallah accused Hamas of “tampering with the lives of two million Palestinians” in Gaza . Hamas, he told the Post, “is again dragging the Gaza Strip towards a catastrophe because of its failed policies and disregard for the lives of our people there.” He expressed doubt that the Egyptians would succeed in their effort to prevent an escalation between Israel and Hamas.
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