Buoyed by Friday night’s terrorist attack in Ariel and massive support during rallies at the Aqsa Mosque compound (Temple Mount) over the past few weeks, Hamas and other Palestinian terror groups have called for stepping up the fight against Israel. In separate statements, the groups also welcomed the Ariel attack, which resulted in the killing of a security guard.
Hamas officials said over the weekend that they consider the rallies that took place at the compound as a “referendum” in support of the armed “resistance” against Israel.
During the rallies, thousands of Hamas supporters chanted slogans in support of Hamas military commander Mohammed Deif and the group’s leader in the Gaza Strip, Yayha Sinwar. The demonstrators also called on Hamas to bomb Tel Aviv and “blow up the heads of the Zionists.”
“The decision of the Palestinian people is that the resistance is the option and the shortest way to liberate Palestine and Jerusalem,” said Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh, who is based in Qatar.
But a leaflet distributed by Fatah activists in east Jerusalem on Friday criticized the worshippers for raising Hamas flags at the holy site. The leaflet also attacked the worshippers for chanting slogans against Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas.
A senior PA official in Ramallah condemned the use of the holy site as a podium for “raising political banners and slandering President Abbas.” The official argued that the pro-Hamas rallies at the Aqsa Mosque compound caused “huge damage” to the Palestinians.
In a video released early Saturday, a masked man claiming to represent the Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, the armed wing of the ruling Fatah faction headed by Abbas, claimed “full responsibility” for the Ariel attack. He said that the attack came “in response to the oppression and violation of the occupation government against Muslim and Christian holy sites.”
The masked man pledged that his group will continue “in the path of glory and martyrdom.”
It was not clear whether the Fatah-affiliated group was indeed responsible for the attack.
The Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ) organization said that the Palestinians will “continue the fight against the [Israeli] enemy.”
Commenting on the death of Yahya Adwan, a 28-year-old Palestinian from the village of Azun in the northern West Bank who was shot dead by IDF soldiers during clashes shortly after the Ariel attack, PIJ called on Palestinians to avenge his killing.
Abu Hamza, a spokesperson for PIJ’s armed wing, praised the Ariel attack as a “heroic operation” and a “gift from the Palestinians to all the free people on Al-Quds (Jerusalem) Day.”
AL-QUDS DAY, an annual event held on the last Friday of Ramadan, was initiated by Iran in 1979 to express support for the Palestinians and call for the destruction of Israel.
Abu Hamza said that the rallies and demonstrations held in Iran and other countries on the day increased hopes of the imminent “defeat of the Zionist entity.”
He praised Iran’s supreme leader Ali Khamenei for supporting “the path of struggle and jihad against the Zionist enemy.”
Hamas also welcomed “the heroic operation” in Ariel, saying that the fight will continue “until liberation and [the right of] return,” a reference to Palestinian refugees and their descendants who are demanding that they be allowed to return to their former homes in Israel.
“This heroic operation, and the continuous resistance operations, dispel the illusions of those who thought that the settlers’ daily crimes against our people, our land and our Islamic and Christian holy sites, and their incursions into blessed al-Aqsa Mosque, will remain without a price and without a response from the resistance,” Hamas said in a statement. “As we salute our heroic resistance fighters, we affirm that the resistance will continue as long as the occupation remains on our land.”
The PLO’s Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP) and Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine (DFLP) also hailed the Ariel terror attack, urging Palestinians to continue the “struggle” against Israel.
“The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine saluted the heroes of the attack on the Ariel settlement, who expressed the choice of our Palestinian people to resist the occupation,” the PFLP said in a statement. “The armed action of the resistance factions is the best response to the occupation and its crimes.”
The PFLP called on Palestinians to “expand and escalate all forms of engagement with the Zionist enemy.”
The DFLP, for its part, said that it considers the Ariel attack as “a blow to the occupation’s security system and its fortifications.”
The group said that the attack came “in response to the occupation’s crimes, terrorism, settler violence, attacks on worshipers in the courtyards of al-Aqsa Mosque, and daily arrests and incursions. Our people will continue their resistance in all forms until the liberation of their land.”