Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza City 311 (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Senior Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip Khaled al-Tash said that his terrorist group is ready to make moves to calm the situation in the Strip but that things could evolve if "Zionist aggression" continues, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
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The statement came as rockets exploded deeper and deeper into Israel, striking north of Ashdod near Yavne on Thursday, for the first time since Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
Earlier in the week, the Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed
responsibility for firing Grad rockets, which came after Israel killed
four terror operatives in a missile strike on Tuesday night. The four
were behind the firing of two Grad rockets into Beersheba in late
February, the IDF said.
At a press conference in Gaza on Thursday, Tash claimed that Israel was
responsible for the current escalation and that if it "stops its
aggression," the terror organization would respect understandings
reached after Operation Cast Lead not to fire missiles into Israeli
The terrorist leader added that the current round of missile launches
was meant to serve as a warning to Israel, saying that if "Zionist
aggression" continues, there is no telling how things will evolve.
"Calm will be met with calm," the Islamic Jihad leader said.
"The responsibility lies entirely on Hamas... we know how to act and
have proven this in the past, we will strike proportionately when
needed," Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio
In an interview a day earlier, Vilna'i warned that another military
confrontation with Hamas is inevitable. "It's only a matter of time
until we clash with Hamas again," he said.
The Hamas government, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency in the
Gaza Strip in anticipation of a massive IDF response to the bombing and
the recent spate of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.
Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has evacuated
most of its civilian and security buildings in the Gaza Strip as part of
its precautionary measures.
Many Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders went into hiding after closing their mobile phones, the journalists said.
Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, said
that his government has acted in accordance with an emergency plan that
envisages a massive IDF strike in the Gaza Strip.
He said that in line with the plan, Hamas evacuated security
installations throughout the Gaza Strip out of fear that they could be
targeted by Israeli warplanes.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Israeli threats to retaliate in
response to the terror attacks don’t scare his movement or the
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said that the movement has asked Egypt
to intervene with Israel to prevent a military confrontation. The
officials added that Egyptian authorities were in contact with Hamas and
Israel to avoid another war.