The Islamic Jihad terror group threatened this week to work to scuttle any peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinian Authority.
“Just as we have fought against the Oslo process in the past, so will we destroy any accord that legitimizes the Zionist occupation of Palestine,” a senior official for the group, Ahmad al-Medlal, told French daily Le Figaro on Sunday.
In a statement from his base in Gaza on Monday, Medlal said a peace agreement would legitimize Israeli control of the territory it currently holds — including all of pre-1967 Israel, Israel Radio reported.
He added that his organization was capable of reaching all of Israel, a reference to the group’s recent attempts to carry out terror operations in Israeli cities and civilian centers and its efforts at launching rockets at Israeli towns from the Gaza Strip.
The threat is not hypothetical. In early January, four Islamic Jihad activists from Bethlehem were arrested for the December 22 bombing of a bus in the coastal city of Bat Yam, a suburb of Tel Aviv. Disaster was averted when a passenger noticed a suspicious unclaimed bag on the bus and the bus driver evacuated the passengers before the bomb exploded.
Meanwhile, IDF figures show the rate of rocket attacks from Gaza tripled in January in comparison with the monthly rate in 2013, a spike partly blamed on Islamic Jihad, which has moved into the rocket-launching areas of the Strip in recent weeks as Hamas has withdrawn its 900-strong anti-rocket force.
The US designated the organization’s deputy secretary-general, Ziyad al-Nakhalah, a terrorist following the Bat Yam bombing.
“Ziyad has repeatedly taken credit for attacks against Israel,” a State Department statement said. “For example, Ziyad took credit for PIJ’s [Palestinian Islamic Jihad’s] indiscriminate missile attacks into Israel in 2011, 2009, and 2008.”
The Monday statement from Medlal was not the first time Islamic Jihad has called for a return to terror attacks.
In September, while Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas attended the UN General Assembly in New York, Medlal and Hamas armed wing spokesman Abu Obeida exhorted Palestinians in the West Bank to declare a “Third Intifada” against Israel.
“The intifada needs to break out anew at every point of conflict,” Medlal said at the time, at a conference in the Gaza Strip’s Jabaliya refugee camp. “Resistance is the best response to the occupation’s crimes against the al-Aqsa Mosque.”
Abbas recently rejected a return to armed conflict. “In my life, and if I have any more life in the future,” he told The New York Times in an interview published Monday, “I will never return to the armed struggle.”