Islamic Jihad warns against 'Zionist aggression'

Terrorist leader group says "calm will be met with calm," but things could escalate if strikes continue; Vilna'i warns Hamas.

Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza City 311 (R) (photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Islamic Jihad terrorists in Gaza City 311 (R)
(photo credit: REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa)
Senior Islamic Jihad leader in the Gaza Strip Khaled al-Tash said that his terrorist group is ready to make moves to calm the situation in the Strip but that things could evolve if "Zionist aggression" continues, Israel Radio reported Thursday.
The statement came as rockets exploded deeper and deeper into Israel, striking north of Ashdod near Yavne on Thursday, for the first time since Operation Cast Lead in 2009.
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Earlier in the week, the Al-Quds Brigades of Islamic Jihad claimed responsibility for firing Grad rockets, which came after Israel killed four terror operatives in a missile strike on Tuesday night. The four were behind the firing of two Grad rockets into Beersheba in late February, the IDF said.
At a press conference in Gaza on Thursday, Tash claimed that Israel was responsible for the current escalation and that if it "stops its aggression," the terror organization would respect understandings reached after Operation Cast Lead not to fire missiles into Israeli territory.
The terrorist leader added that the current round of missile launches was meant to serve as a warning to Israel, saying that if "Zionist aggression" continues, there is no telling how things will evolve.
"Calm will be met with calm," the Islamic Jihad leader said.
"The responsibility lies entirely on Hamas... we know how to act and have proven this in the past, we will strike proportionately when needed," Homeland Security Minister Matan Vilnai told Israel Radio Thursday.
In an interview a day earlier, Vilna'i warned that another military confrontation with Hamas is inevitable. "It's only a matter of time until we clash with Hamas again," he said.
The Hamas government, meanwhile, declared a state of emergency in the Gaza Strip in anticipation of a massive IDF response to the bombing and the recent spate of rocket and mortar attacks on Israel.
Palestinian journalists in the Gaza Strip said that Hamas has evacuated most of its civilian and security buildings in the Gaza Strip as part of its precautionary measures.
Many Hamas and Islamic Jihad leaders went into hiding after closing their mobile phones, the journalists said.
Ehab Ghissin, spokesman for the Hamas-controlled Interior Ministry, said that his government has acted in accordance with an emergency plan that envisages a massive IDF strike in the Gaza Strip.
He said that in line with the plan, Hamas evacuated security installations throughout the Gaza Strip out of fear that they could be targeted by Israeli warplanes.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhri said that Israeli threats to retaliate in response to the terror attacks don’t scare his movement or the Palestinians.
Hamas officials in the Gaza Strip said that the movement has asked Egypt to intervene with Israel to prevent a military confrontation. The officials added that Egyptian authorities were in contact with Hamas and Israel to avoid another war.