The head of the Hamas terror group in the Gaza Strip, Ismail Haniyeh, declared Friday that both Israel and the Palestinian Authority are powerless to stop the ongoing surge in violence that he said was an “intifada,” or violent uprising.
“The intifada will continue and will become the greatest strategic turning point in the history of the Palestinian struggle,” Haniyeh said at an anti-Israel rally in the southern Gaza town of Rafah, according to Channel 2 television.
“Nothing will be able to stop this intifada,” he asserted. “Not the occupying enemy and nor its security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority,” he said referring to long-standing joint defense initiatives between Jerusalem and Ramallah.
During the rally, fighters from Hamas’s armed wing, the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, staged a mock attack on Israeli settlers with an assault rifles. Masked Qassam fighters also staged a suicide bombing of an Israeli bus in front of the crowd.
Haniyeh went on to claim the agreement Palestinian hunger striker Mohammed al-Qiq reached with Israel earlier in the day ending his administrative detention was proof “the occupation can be defeated.”
The terrorist group Hamas rules Gaza, the Palestinian enclave squeezed between Egypt and Israel and separated from the West Bank. Gaza has been the site of three wars between Israel and Hamas since 2008, but it has remained relativity calm amid a wave of Palestinian knife, gun and car-ramming attacks began in October in the West Bank, Jerusalem and across Israel. A number of Palestinians have been killed by Israeli security forces during violent protests along the Gaza border during that time.
The rash of violence has raised fears of a third Palestinian intifada.
Though Haniyeh, who acts as Gaza’s de facto political leader, in recent weeks has denied Hamas is seeking a fresh round of hostilities with Israel, he has lauded the group’s ramped up efforts in digging underground tunnels designed to be used to attack Israel.
Haniyeh and other Hamas leaders have praised the perpetrators of terror attacks in recent months, and have increasingly urged West Bank Palestinians to carry out attacks against Israelis. Hamas is avowedly committed to destroying Israel.