Gazan terror group Islamic Jihad welcomed a unity pact between Hamas and Fatah Thursday, while expressing fears that it could be wrecked by Israel in the coming weeks.
“This deal is a step in the right direction and we hope to implement it,” Islamic Jihad spokesperson Khaled al-Batch told AFP a day after Fatah signed an agreement with the Hamas terror group to put aside their differences and form a unity government.
The agreement calls for a technocratic unity government to be formed in the next five weeks and elections called within six months after that.
“We need to be aware that the next five weeks are very long and we are afraid outside interference from Israeli pressure and those opposed to Palestinian unity might sabotage this,” Batch added.
The agreement, announced in Gaza on Wednesday, is aimed at ending seven years of animosity between the West Bank-based PLO and the Gaza-based Hamas, but it met with harsh reactions in Jerusalem and Washington.
Israeli officials responded to the unity deal with dismay and said that it would threaten the entire peace process due to Hamas’s absolute refusal to recognize the State of Israel. On Thursday top ministers met to plan Israel’s response to the Palestinian internal reconciliation.
State Department spokeswoman Jen Psaki said the US was disappointed by the move and an unnamed American official said US aid to the Palestinian Authority could be dependent on Hamas recognizing Israel and renouncing violence, among other moderating steps.
Islamic Jihad is seen as an ascendant group of extremists in Gaza, whose rocket attacks on Israel have sometimes put it at odds with Gaza’s Hamas rulers.
On Wednesday, Israeli planes reportedly targeted an Islamic Jihad operative in Gaza, though the missile missed its target and injured a number of bystanders instead.
The airstrike came after several rockets were fired at Israel earlier in the week, and was followed by more Gazan rockets Wednesday night.
Despite the exchange of fire, the Kerem Shalom crossing between Israel and Gaza was partially opened on Thursday to allow supplies to be trucked into the coastal enclave.