Hamas to Israel: 'Annexation is a declaration of war'

Condemning the Israeli plan as a “criminal” project, Abu Obeida said, if Israel will follow through on the annexation, it would be "a declaration of war on our Palestinian people."

HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza. (photo credit: REUTERS)
HAMAS MEMBERS in Gaza.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Israel’s plan to extend its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank would be considered a “declaration of war” on the Palestinians, and it will regret the move, Izzadin al-Qassam, the so-called “military” wing of Hamas, said Thursday.
The Israeli plan was the “biggest theft of Palestinian land in decades,” Izzadin al-Qassam spokesman Abu Obeida said in a statement.
The “project of the resistance was to remove the occupation from all the lands of historic Palestine,” he said.
Condemning the plan as a “criminal” project, Abu Obeida said: “We won’t talk much, and we won’t make more statements. We say in words that are limited and clear and which the occupation and those who stand behind it need to understand very well: The resistance considers this decision a declaration of war on our Palestinian people. The resistance, in this war, will be the loyal and trustworthy guard in defending our people and their land and holy shrines.”
Abu Obeida said his group would make Israel “regret bitterly” its decision to apply its sovereignty to parts of the West Bank.
His statement was made in commemoration of the day IDF soldier Gilad Schalit was taken prisoner on June 25, 2006. Schalit was captured by Hamas in a cross-border raid via tunnels near the Israeli border.
Schalit’s abduction resulted in the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners held by Israel, Abu Obeida boasted.
The prisoner exchange was the result of a 2011 agreement between Israel and Hamas to release him in exchange for 1,027 prisoners, mainly Palestinians and Arab-Israelis.
Achieving a new prisoner-exchange agreement was now at the top of his group’s list of priorities, Abu Obeida said.
“We want to remind the Zionist occupier that there won’t be any new [prisoner swap] unless it includes senior leaders and heroic prisoners who have the blood of the occupiers on their hands,” he said. “The occupation will pay this price, willingly or unwillingly.”
The “resistance has several options” to force Israel to comply with its demands for the release of a large number of Palestinian prisoners, Abu Obeida said, adding: “The occupation will pay an unprecedented price.”
His threat came 48 hours after Hamas hinted it might resume terrorist attacks against Israel in response to the annexation plan.
Addressing the Palestinians, Hamas said: “Let’s rise. Let’s launch a popular revolution everywhere so that the enemy would know that there are men in Palestine and heroes in our nation who will protect the land, the people and the holy shrines and repel this enemy.”
A “massive popular revolution and activating all the tools of the resistance are sufficient to end the Zionist aggression and stop the international conspiracy” against the Palestinians, Hamas said in a statement issued in the Gaza Strip.
The Israeli plan is a “conspiracy woven by the Zionist occupation, the American administration and some Arab conspirators against the Palestinian people,” it said.
Hamas called for “active and powerful participation in all activities and events against the annexation decision,” adding that it was a “religious, moral and patriotic duty” to protest against the plan.
Responding to the earlier threats, Defense Minister and Alternate Prime Minister Benny Gantz warned Hamas that the group's leaders would be the first to pay for any aggression against Israel.
“I suggest that the leaders of the movement remember that they will be the first to pay for their aggression if it happens," Gantz said during a ceremony for newly-graduated Israel Air Force pilots.“The IDF is the strongest army in the region, and the price for any attempt to hurt Israeli civilians will be painful and forceful."

Anna Ahronheim contributed to this report.