A Hamas spokesman denied responsibility Monday evening for the kidnapping and killing of three Israeli teenagers, threatening to “open the gates of hell” against Israel if it launched an attack against the Gaza Strip.
“The story of the disappearance and killing of the three settlers is based on the Israeli narrative only,” Sami Abu Zuhri told AFP. “The Israeli occupation is trying to refer to this narrative in order to justify its wide-scale war against our people, against the resistance and against Hamas.”
“If Netanyahu launches a war against Gaza, the gates of hell will open on him,” Abu Zuhri added on his Facebook page.
Channel 2 news reported that personnel at Hamas and Islamic Jihad facilities in Gaza abandoned their buildings late Monday, apparently fearing Israeli airstrikes.
Meanwhile, PA President Mahmoud Abbas convened an emergency meeting of the Palestinian leadership Monday evening to discuss “the political developments and the repercussions of the recent events,” the official Wafa news agency reported.
The bodies of Eyal Yifrach, Gil-ad Shaar and Naftali Fraenkel, kidnapped on June 12, were found in a field north of Hebron on Monday evening by a volunteer search team. The two suspected kidnappers, Hamas members Amer Abu Aysha and Marwan Kawasme, are still at large.
Some Hamas officials expressed their disappointment that the three teenagers were found dead, rather than left alive to be used as a bargaining chip for the release of Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails.
‘The body of three settlers discovered,’ wrote Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri on his Facebook page. ‘Better luck next time, God willing’
“The body of three settlers discovered,” wrote Hamas MP Mushir Al-Masri on his Facebook page. “Better luck next time, God willing.”
Izzat Al-Rishq, a member of Hamas’s political bureau, took the opportunity to lambaste the Palestinian Authority for assisting Israel to crack down on Hamas in the West Bank.
“A PA official boasts: ‘Israel has failed in preventing Hamas’s presence in the West Bank, while we have succeeded in preventing any green flag [Hamas's color] from being displayed anywhere in the West Bank,’” wrote Rishq, quoting head of PA General Security Majed Faraj.
“In answering him, I say that opposing the resistance is shameful, and should never be a source of pride or gloating. Ending the resistance and uprooting it is an illusion which will never become a reality.”
Rishq’s comments expressed the deep crisis plaguing the Hamas-Fatah unity in the wake of the kidnapping.
On Sunday, the deputy head of Hamas’s political bureau Moussa Abu Marzouq indicated that his movement was on the verge of reasserting political control over the Gaza Strip in light of a leadership void which has left tens of thousands of Hamas-appointed civil servants without salaries for a second consecutive month.
“The PA has besieged Gaza before the others have done so,” wrote Abu Marzouq on his Facebook page. “Today, who is responsible for Gaza’s civil servants? Who is responsible for its border crossings? … Who is responsible for ending its siege? Who is responsible for its electricity?
“Today, I fear that Hamas is being called to return, in order to safeguard the security and well-being of its residents. Gaza does not live in a void; it is neither under the responsibility of the previous government nor is it under the responsibility of the unity government.”