Leaders of Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad called for escalating the fight against Israel, especially in the West Bank and Jerusalem, until “the liberation of Palestine.”
The appeal came during a meeting on Wednesday in Beirut between PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh and Saleh al-Arouri, deputy head of the Hamas Politburo.
Hamas officials Osama Hamdan, Ali Barakeh and Ahmed Abdel Hadi attended the meeting with the PIJ leader.
The call for stepping up “resistance operations” against Israel came amid mounting tensions between the Palestinians and Israel in the West Bank and Jerusalem.
On Tuesday, two Palestinians – one from the Balata refugee camp near Nablus and the other from the Kalandiya refugee camp in the Ramallah area – were killed during clashes with the IDF.
The Palestinian Authority, Hamas and PIJ have warned that Jews are planning to “storm” al-Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) during the upcoming Jewish holidays.
They called on Muslim worshipers to converge on the mosque in the coming days to “thwart” the planned “incursions,” warning that Israeli measures could lead to a religious war in the region.
During the Wednesday meeting, “the two sides discussed the latest developments of the Palestine issue in light of the ongoing Israeli escalation on our land, our people and our holy sites, and the attempts of the occupation authorities to Judaize Jerusalem and displace its people, as well as the continuation of settlement construction, the siege of the Gaza Strip and the abuse of prisoners and detainees,” according to a statement issued by PIJ.
The two sides “stressed the need to confront the Israeli aggression in Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and our occupied territories in 1948, and to escalate the resistance against the occupation,” it said.
Hamas and PIJ also “stressed the importance of the steadfastness of our people in occupied Palestine and abroad,” and praised the Palestinian “heroes” for confronting the IDF and settlers.
The terrorist groups said that they discussed the readiness of the armed groups in the Gaza Strip to defend al-Aqsa Mosque and the residents of east Jerusalem as they did during last year’s war between Israel and Hamas.
“The priority at this stage of national liberation requires working to unify the resistance forces and escalate the confrontation with the Israeli occupation and force it to retreat from all Palestinian soil,” the statement read.
The two groups also discussed “the danger of normalization” between Arab countries and Israel, and called on the PA to halt security coordination with the Israeli security forces.
In a separate statement, Hamas called on Palestinians to hold mass prayers at al-Aqsa Mosque on Friday in solidarity with the east Jerusalem murabitat (female defenders of the faith) who have taken it upon themselves to defend the mosque.
Senior Hamas official Abdel Hakim Hanini praised the Palestinian gunmen in the West Bank who recently engaged in clashes with the IDF.
“The youth will not retreat from this revolutionary path,” he said. “Rather, they will escalate their comprehensive resistance in all cities of the West Bank and occupied Jerusalem until the goals of our people are achieved with liberation and the return of the refugees.”
PIJ spokesperson Tareq Ezz al-Din warned of the “serious consequences of the escalating calls of the settler groups to storm and desecrate the blessed al-Aqsa Mosque.”
He held Israel and its leaders fully responsible “for this dangerous escalation, and for providing cover for these provocative attempts by the settlers.”
The PIJ official called on the Palestinians to head to al-Aqsa Mosque to protect it against the “settlers’ incursions and desecration.”