Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhairi: “Hamas will continue kidnapping soldiers & Israelis until the last Palestinian in Israeli prison is freed.”
Hamas is continuing to threaten Israel even as concern grows in Palestinian circles over Israeli retaliation for the kidnapping and murder of three teens. Hamas official Mushir al-Masri in Gaza warned Israel against an escalation in the Gaza Strip, adding that Hamas possesses rockets and missiles capable of reaching Tel Aviv and the densely populated Gush Dan area.
“Hamas will continue kidnapping soldiers and Israelis until the last Palestinian in Israeli prison is freed,” Masri said.
A senior Palestinian official in Ramallah told Israel Hayom that despite the threats, Hamas is not interested in a violent escalation. The official said the Hamas leadership is holding intensive talks with the heads of other Palestinian groups in Gaza in an attempt to calm tensions and to prevent more rockets from being fired at Israel.
He also said the other Palestinian groups in Gaza are also not interested in an escalation, and that the number of rockets being fired from Gaza will decrease in the coming days.
According to Palestinian reports, messages delivered from Israel to Hamas by a third party said that Israel would not continue to suffer the rocket attacks and would retaliate. An official in Ramallah said that messages to Hamas from Israel are delivered via the Palestinian Authority and officials in Qatar.
Hamas spokesman Sami Abu Zuhairi confirmed in an interview on Lebanese television that his organization is not interested in escalation.
“We are not interested in another war with Israel,” he said. “However, if Israel continues to attack and sets fire to our territory, Hamas will have a strong reaction. I suggest that Israel not test Hamas’ patience.”
Meanwhile in Ramallah, frantic appeals are being made to international organizations to prevent Israel from carrying out a “disproportionate response” to the kidnapping and murder of the teens.
Palestinian media reported that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and his officials are holding talks with officials in Washington, Europe and Western countries regarding concerns over possible Israeli retaliation in the West Bank and Gaza Strip and collective punishment of Palestinians in Hebron.
It was also reported that Abbas reached out to the Arab League, asking to hold an emergency conference on the issue.
Arab League Deputy Chairman Muhammad Sabich confirmed the reports, and in interviews given to Arabic press, blamed Israel for the situation. “Israel is the one that caused all the tension because of the ongoing arrests in the Palestinian territories,” he said.
Meanwhile, Israel has revived a long-lapsed policy of destroying suspected militants’ homes, following the finding of the teens’ bodies on Monday.
Israeli forces destroyed the homes of Marwan Qawasmeh and Amer Abu Aisheh, two Palestinian terrorists suspected of abducting and killing the teens.
View original Israel Hayom publication at: http://www.israelhayom.com/site/newsletter_article.php?id=18539