Gazan jihadists issue ultimatum, threaten to escalate violence if demands not met

Salafists will escalate violence within 48 hours if its operatives aren't released.

Palestinians militants rally in Gaza City (photo credit: REUTERS)
Palestinians militants rally in Gaza City
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Tensions between with Gaza look set to rise, after a Salafi jihadist leader threatened to escalate his organization’s attacks on Israel within 48 hours, if his demands on Hamas were not met.
A Twitter account under the name Abu Bakr al-Makdasi posted on Thursday that he would order an increase in attacks on the Jewish state within the stated time if Hamas did not release members of his organization who were arrested a few days ago.
The threat comes a day after the Islamic State-linked Salafi group in Gaza fired a rocket at Sderot, narrowly missing homes and hitting about 100 meters from an elementary school. The rocket exploded in a road in the southern town, failing to cause injuries but sending one resident into shock.
An online statement said the attack was part of the “jihad against Jews” and a response to the arrest by Hamas of five Salafi operatives.
The Israel Air Force struck a number of Hamas targets on Wednesday in response to the first rocket, carrying out air strikes in the northern and southern Strip.
An additional Hamas target was hit by IDF tank fire in northern Gaza earlier on Wednesday.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman said: “We do not seek adventures and no one is pushing for an escalation with Hamas in the Gaza Strip, but we are determined to protect the security of the citizens of the State of Israel and there will be no compromise on this point.
“Every incident of fire from the Gaza Strip at the sovereign territory of the State of Israel will be met with a powerful response. Hamas controls Gaza with a strong hand, and when it wants to achieve or to prevent something, it knows how to do so. So they should try harder [to stop] the small groups among them [that reject the truce with Israel],” he said.
“[Israel] has no intention of initiating any military maneuver. At the same time, we will not tolerate any fire, any provocation,” Liberman said.
Yaakov Lappin contributed to this report.