Hamas’s Gaza chief Yahya Sinwar, in a rare televised address on Thursday, called for Friday to be a “red bloody day,” following the day’s United Nations vote against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
Sinwar called on “the people of Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Palestinians everywhere, to spring into action on Friday so it will be a red bloody day for the occupation,” he said in the speech, broadcast on Al-Aqsa Television.
“I call for turning Friday into a decisive day in the struggle of our people to bring down the decision of Trump,” he added, speaking before a crowd of Gazan youth.
Amid fears in the terror group’s ranks that violent Palestinian protests against Trump’s December 6 announcement were fading, Sinwar gave specific instructions to would-be attackers in an explicit bid to fan the flames in the West Bank.
He urged Palestinians in the West Bank to head towards places of contact with IDF forces and to attack the soldiers. He also urged attacked against Israeli civilians living in the West Bank.
On Friday morning the terror group amplified Sinwar’s instructions, telling supporters to head out to protests and rallies after Friday morning prayers. The organization specifically called on Palestinians in Bethlehem to gather “near the northern entrance of Bethlehem, and march towards the points of contact with the occupation,” which would bring the protesters to the checkpoints leading to Jerusalem.
And in the northern West Bank city of Tulkarem, it called for people to join a march “which will begin after Friday prayers in front of the new mosque.”
Hamas, which seized control of Gaza in 2007, seeks to destroy Israel. It has been urging a new intifada since Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital on December 6, and has encouraged thousands of Gazans to confront Israeli troops at the Gaza border fence, where there have been several fatalities in recent weeks.
Trump’s announcement earlier this month was followed by violent Palestinian protests in the West Bank and Gaza, but the protests subsided considerably after the first week, and Israeli officials believe there is little likelihood of a full-fledged wave of violence developing.
Sinwar also rejected the proposed US framework for a peace deal between Israel and the Palestinians — though the Trump administration has yet to make such a framework public. He said that the deal would end the Palestinian struggle, and that the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was the first step of the deal.
A week ago Hamas leader Ismail Haniyeh called for every Friday henceforth to be a day of rage across Palestinian, Arab and Muslim lands until Trump rescinds his recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.
In his speech directed to Gaza’s young men, Sinwar also admitted that the Palestinian reconciliation process is failing over a dispute about the future of the terror group’s weapons.
“Whoever doesn’t see that reconciliation is collapsing is blind,” said Sinwar.
“Some people want reconciliation on Israeli and American terms, which means handing over weapons and the tunnels and rocket capabilities,” he added.
An Egyptian-brokered agreement in early October originally set a December 1 deadline for the terror group to fully transfer power in the Gaza Strip back to the Palestinian Authority, which is dominated by PA President Mahmoud Abbas’s Fatah party, though that was later pushed back to December 10.
In Gaza, the situation has remained essentially unchanged despite the deadline, with Hamas police still patrolling the streets, while crippling electricity shortages endure.
Hamas claimed earlier in December that it had handed over control of all government ministries, but Fatah’s top negotiator later said “obstacles” remained.
Since the start of this reconciliation process between rival Palestinian factions — several others have failed in the past — the question over the fate of Hamas’s 25,000-strong military wing has been a thorny issue between the sides.
Abbas wants the PA to be in full control of all weapons and security in the Gaza Strip, but Hamas is refusing to give up its arsenal. Hamas, which seeks the destruction of Israel, has fought three wars with Israel since seizing power from Fatah in the enclave in 2007.
Abbas has also not yet lifted sanctions against Hamas, including cutting payments for electricity, further worsening an already severe power shortage in Gaza.
Both sides still publicly say they remain committed to the reconciliation.
AFP contributed to this report.