Hamas, as the ruling authority in the Gaza Strip, has so far not fired any rockets toward Israel, choosing instead to stay out of the conflict between the IDF and Palestinian Islamic Jihad.
The military said that the group is currently sitting on the fence, and hopes the designated terror group will stay out of the fighting.
In 2019 when the IDF launched Operation Black Belt after targeting Baha Abu al-Ata, the group’s leader in the northern Gaza Strip, Hamas refrained from taking part in the fighting between the Israeli military and Islamic Jihad.
The operation lasted 48 hours and saw the terror group fire 450 rockets at Israel.
Jerusalem hopes that circumstances within the Strip, including the responsibility Hamas has to the residents of Gaza, will prevent them from firing rockets as well.
But there are some circumstances that could bring the terror group into the fighting.
If a Hamas member is killed in an Israeli airstrike, the group will likely retaliate with rocket fire.
With the Jewish holiday of Tisha Be’av on Sunday, a large number of Jews are expected to visit the Temple Mount. Should there be any clashes on the holy site, there are concerns that Hamas will feel the need to enter the fighting in order to show that it is the protector of al-Aqsa Mosque on the site.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said Friday that Israel “won’t allow terrorist organizations to set the agenda in the Gaza Strip and threaten the citizens of the State of Israel. Anyone who wants to harm Israel must know that we will get to them. Security forces will act against the Islamic Jihad terrorists to remove the threat from the citizens of Israel.”
Defense Minister Benny Gantz said that the goal is to protect Israeli communities and citizens. “We will not allow anyone to threaten or harm the citizens of Israel. Whoever tries will be hurt.”
He warned earlier during a visit to the IDF’s Southern Command that the threat posed by the group would be dealt with.
“The situation in which several terrorists – some of which are not even located in this area – hold the Gazan people hostage will backfire.”Defense Minister Benny Gantz
“To our enemies, and specifically to the leadership of Hamas and the Islamic Jihad, I would like to emphasize: Your time is up,” the defense minister said. “The threat [in this region] will be removed one way or another.”
During his visit, he held a situational assessment with IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, head of the southern Command Maj.-Gen. Eliezer Toledano, Commander of the Gaza Division Brig.-Gen. Nimrod Aloni and Ronen Bar, head of the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency).
“The situation in which several terrorists – some of whom are not even located in this area – hold the Gazan people hostage will backfire,” Gantz warned.
Islamic Jihad is an Iranian proxy which, unlike Hamas, does not have any responsibility for the citizens of Gaza. The Islamic Republic funds and equips the Gaza-based terror group.
The group’s chief Ziyad Nakhalah, who is based in Damascus, met with Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran on Thursday and with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps Commander Hossein Salami on Saturday.
“The Israelis will pay yet another heavy price for their crime,” Salami was quoted by Iranian news networks as saying.
IRGC Quds Force Commander Ismail Kaani also warned that Hezbollah would join the fight.
“Hezbollah plans to deal the Zionist entity it’s final blow to and remove it from existence at the appropriate time,” he was quoted as saying.
Gantz said Friday morning that security forces are preparing for all scenarios on all fronts, including in the North and the center of the country, and that the IDF will continue its operational activity in all sectors as needed.
“We do not seek conflict, yet we will not hesitate to defend our citizens if required,” he said, adding that “the State of Israel and the IDF will continue its operations, knowing the responsibility we bear on our shoulders: to defend the communities and citizens of Israel’s South, and to defend the citizens of the entire State of Israel.”