Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) leaders have called for stepping up attacks against Israel, especially in the West Bank.
The call was made during a meeting in Beirut between Saleh al-Arouri, deputy chairman of the Hamas Politburo, and PIJ Secretary-General Ziyad al-Nakhaleh.
The meeting took place on Saturday night and was attended by several representatives of the two Iranian-backed Islamist groups.
It took place amid mounting violence in the West Bank and a Palestinian Authority security crackdown on members of the two groups.
It also came ahead of the formation of a new Israeli governing coalition headed by Prime Minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.
“The two sides affirmed the joint cooperation in strengthening and activating the resistance of our people in all of Palestine in the face of the Israeli occupation and criminality,” Hamas said in a statement after the meeting. “They also emphasized the importance of rallying around the resistance in all its forms.”
Resistance and confrontation
Hamas and PIJ use the term “resistance” to refer to the use of violence and armed attacks against Israel.
Hamas said the two sides stressed the importance of “confronting Zionist schemes that aim to undermine the resistance and liquidate the Palestinian cause.”
Meanwhile, Abu Obeida, spokesman for Izzadin al-Qassam, the so-called military wing of Hamas, on Sunday hinted that his group was planning to kidnap IDF soldiers.
“The decision to increase the number of soldiers held by the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades remains effective and is being carried out,” he said in an interview with a Hamas-affiliated website to mark the 35tth anniversary of the founding of Hamas.
He was referring to the remains of IDF soldiers Hadar Goldin and Oron Shaul, who were killed during the 2014 Israel-Hamas war.
“The [Israeli] enemy will regret its intransigence regarding a new prisoner-exchange deal,” he said, regarding Israel’s alleged refusal to release thousands of Palestinian security prisoners held in Israeli jails in return for the bodies of the soldiers.
Two Israeli civilians who reportedly entered the Gaza Strip on their own, Hisham al-Sayed and Avera Mengistu, are also being held by Hamas in the Gaza Strip.
Last week, Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar said his group would give Israel “a limited time to complete the [prisoner-exchange] deal.” Otherwise, Hamas “will close the file of the four enemy prisoners forever and find another way to liberate our prisoners,” he said in a speech to mark the Hamas anniversary.
Abu Obeidah said in the interview that the Izzadin al-Qassam Brigades “forms the nucleus of the Palestinian Liberation Army.”
The rising tensions and violence in the West Bank was the most significant action in the past 15 years and would have “strategic consequences on the future of the Zionist entity,” he said.
Addressing the Palestinians in the West Bank and Jerusalem, Abu Obeidah urged them to “continue escalating the resistance because we are facing an existential battle.”
In a related development, a committee representing several Palestinian factions in the West Bank on Sunday called on Palestinians to “target the settlements with all available means and tools” until the settlers no longer feel safe and leave the Palestinian territories.