Hamas: Israel can invade, by all means

Zahar brushes off threats: "They've been saying it for 3 years;" Diskin: Hamas can strike Beersheba.

mahmoud zahar 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
mahmoud zahar 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Despite increasing calls among Israeli ministers of a need to launch a military operation to tackle the escalating threat of rocket attacks on the southern border, Hamas leaders in the Gaza Strip seemed unperturbed, with one senior member even daring Israel to take the action. "For three years we've been hearing comments about an Israeli invasion into the Gaza Strip. Israel is like a teenager who begins to smoke, chokes, then stops," Mahmoud Zahar, a top Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip, said during an interview with a Nazareth radio station. "If they want to [invade] - by all means," "Even in the days of the ceasefire, Israel didn't allow vital supplies into the Gaza Strip, and this is a callous violation," he continued. "Israel promised to open the crossing but that never happened on the ground." Earlier on Tuesday, Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin warned ministers during the weekly cabinet meeting that rocket attacks against Israel may get much worse than the current situation. "The military wing of Hamas is prepared to continue the military confrontation with Israel," Diskin said. "It has improved its rocket-firing capability to long range, and as of today, is able to reach Kiryat Gat, Ashdod, and even the outskirts of Beersheba." "However, we must not err, Hamas is interested in keeping the calm," he continued, adding that the group "Wants to improve the conditions [of the ceasefire] - to remove the blockade, to get a commitment from Israel that it won't attack, and to expand to ceasefire to the West Bank." "The Hamas political leadership is concerned that a military confrontation with Israel would make them lose the assets which they acquired during a long period," Diskin said. Responding to Diskin's comments, spokesman of the Beersheba municipality, Amnon Yosef, said that the city was prepared for any scenario including rockets firing. "Beersheba operates year-round on the maintenance of the bomb shelters, and together with the Home Front Command we run exercises for all sorts of scenarios," Yosef said. "We didn't receive any warnings regarding such a situation," he continued, "but we are prepared for this option as well." Shelly Paz contributed to this report.