Amid shaky Gaza ceasefire, Hamas calls for West Bank ‘Day of Rage’ on Friday

Terror group pushes for violent confrontations at checkpoints and against Israeli settlers in order to ‘defend the land and holy sites’

Illustrative: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces near the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus May 18, 2021.  (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)
Illustrative: Palestinian protesters clash with Israeli security forces near the Hawara checkpoint, south of the West Bank city of Nablus May 18, 2021. (Nasser Ishtayeh/Flash90)

The Hamas terror group urged Palestinians to hold a “Day of Rage” on Friday in order to confront what it called “settlers’ aggression” and the “storming of the Al-Aqsa Mosque” in Jerusalem.

“This aggression will be met by our people with further resistance and confrontation,” the terror group said in a statement.

Despite the ceasefire mostly holding between Israel and the terror group in the Gaza Strip, the Hamas leadership was apparently still pushing for further unrest in the region.

Hamas called upon Palestinians to block Israeli bypass roads in the West Bank and to confront “settlers who are working to impose a fait accompli under the auspices of the occupation government.”

Palestinians march in the West Bank city of Bethlehem with the Palestinian, Hamas and Fatah flags on May 21, 2021. (Wissam Hashlamoun/Flash90)

The group also called on Palestinians to march toward the so-called points of friction in the West Bank — checkpoints that see violent clashes with Israel Defense Forces soldiers on a weekly basis.

The protests were planned for the day before Naksa Day, which commemorates the Arab loss in the 1967 Six Day War and is generally marked on June 5.

“We affirm that the masses of our people are ready to engage in the project of national liberation and to defend the land and the holy sites,” the terror group said in a statement on Tuesday.

Israel and Hamas concluded 11 days of fighting last month during which the terror group launched thousands of rockets at Israeli cities and towns, and Israel launched hundreds of retaliatory airstrikes in the Gaza Strip.

Since the ceasefire took effect on May 20, there has been no rocket fire from Gaza toward Israel. However, on Sunday night a Palestinian who crossed from the Strip stabbed a security guard, lightly injuring him outside an Israeli town near the enclave. On Monday, a fire in southern Israel was apparently sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device launched from the Gaza Strip.

Channel 13 news reported last week that senior defense officials described the ceasefire as “very unstable.”

In this May 10, 2021 photo, rockets are launched from the Gaza Strip towards Israel. (AP Photo/Khalil Hamra)

In the most recent round of fighting, the Palestinian terror groups tied the rocket fire from Gaza to the unrest in Jerusalem, connected to both clashes on the Temple Mount during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, and the pending eviction of a number of Palestinian families from the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood.

According to the Hamas-run Gaza Health Ministry, 253 Palestinians were killed during the fighting, including 66 children. Palestinian terror groups in Gaza have said 80 of the total casualties were combatants, though Israel says the true figure is higher. Thirteen people in Israel, including a 5-year-old boy and a 16-year-old girl, were killed. Israel says some of the Gaza fatalities were caused by Gaza rocket fire that fell short and landed in Gaza.

In recent days, the head of Egypt’s intelligence services, Abbas Kamel, has led a wide-scale push to broker a comprehensive, long-term ceasefire, meeting with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Benny Gantz and other top Israeli officials, as well as with Hamas’s leader in Gaza, Yahya Sinwar, and with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah.

Yahya Sinwar (R), Hamas’ political chief in Gaza, embraces General Abbas Kamel (L), Egypt’s intelligence chief, as the latter arrives for a meeting with leaders of Hamas in Gaza City on May 31, 2021. (MAHMUD HAMS / AFP)

Israel has made large-scale Gaza reconstruction contingent upon Hamas releasing from captivity two Israeli civilians and handing over the remains of two IDF soldiers. Hamas is unlikely to do so without Israel agreeing to free a large number of terrorist operatives from its prisons.

On Monday, Sinwar said the group is ready for “immediate negotiations” to reach a prisoner exchange with Israel and told reporters cryptically to “write down the number 1,111.”

Judah Ari Gross and Aaron Boxerman contributed to this report.

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