Hamas chief: ‘Blessed intifada’ will continue until ‘Jerusalem’s liberation’
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Hamas chief: ‘Blessed intifada’ will continue until ‘Jerusalem’s liberation’

Ismail Haniyeh says terror group prepared to escalate violence; 'anyone who thinks our position will be limited to demonstrations is dreaming'

Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on September 19, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)
Hamas chief Ismail Haniyeh speaks to the press at the Rafah border crossing with Egypt in the southern Gaza Strip on September 19, 2017. (Abed Rahim Khatib/Flash90)

The head of the Hamas terror group on Friday vowed the Palestinians’ “blessed intifada” against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital would continue until the holy city’s “liberation,” and indicated it will seek to escalate violence.

“Anyone who thinks our position will be limited to demonstrations is dreaming,” said Ismail Haniyeh, according to the Ynet news site.

His comments came as some 5,000 Palestinians held demonstrations and clashed with Israeli security forces across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, and shortly after the IDF’s Iron Dome missile defense system intercepted a rocket fired at Israel from Hamas-controlled Gaza.

Two Gaza men were reported killed in clashes with IDF troops at the Gaza border.

Palestinian protestors clashes with IDF soldiers along the Israel-Gaza border on December 8, 2017. (AFP Photo/Jack Guez)

Praising the demonstrations, which he referred to as a “blessed” intifada, or uprising, Haniyeh said the protests showed the Palestinians’ “willingness to sacrifice their lives for the defense of Jerusalem.”

“We will stick to the strategic plan until we reach the final point — the liberation of Jerusalem and all the land of Palestine,” he said.

Palestinian protesters burn pictures of US President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Gaza City, on December 7, 2017. (AFP Photo/Mohammed Abed)

The terror chief said he had spoken with Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erodgan and the emir of Qatar regarding Jerusalem, as well as a top official from Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas’ Fatah party.

Haniyeh’s comments came a day after he called for a new violent uprising over Trump’s decision to move the US embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv.

He also called for quickly completing a reconciliation process with Fatah in order to create a united front against Israeli and American policy.

Hamas, which seized Gaza from Hamas in 2007, seeks the destruction of Israel.

In addition to the protests and clashes throughout the West Bank and Gaza on Friday, a number of rockets were fired at Israel from the Strip, leading to the sounding of warning sirens in communities near the border.

A rocket fired from Gaza Strip is shot down over Ashkelon by the Iron Dome missile defense system, on August 8, 2014. (Edi Israel/Flash90)

The IDF said one the missiles was intercepted by its Iron Dome missile defense system. It later said a second rocket was fired at Israel, but no sign of impact was spotted.

The IDF said there were no injuries or damage from either rocket.

A number of rockets were also fired at Israel from Gaza on Thursday.

An IDF tank and aircraft carried out strikes on two Hamas positions in Gaza in retaliation for the rocket fire on Thursday.

The IDF’s retaliatory strikes targeted Hamas positions even though a different group, the salafist Tawhid al-Jihad, took responsibility for the launches.

“The IDF holds Hamas responsible for the hostile activity perpetrated against Israel from the Gaza Strip,” the army said in a statement.

In the hours afterward, the Tawhid al-Jihad group claimed responsibility for the attack on social media. The small, radical group is affiliated with al-Qaeda.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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