Hamas leader thanks Iran for long-range rockets, threatens Tel Aviv

Yahya Sinwar says that without capabilities provided by Tehran, his terror group would not have been able to hit Beersheba as it did in last round of fighting

Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on May 30, 2019. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)
Hamas leader in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar speaks during a press conference in Gaza City on May 30, 2019. (Mohammed Abed/AFP)

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar on Thursday thanked Iran for providing his terror group the rockets it used to strike deep into Israel and warned the Jewish state that Tel Aviv would be struck again in response to any offensive against the Gaza Strip.

“Iran provided us with rockets, and we surprised the world when our resistance targeted Beersheba,” Sinwar said in a live TV address, referring to the weekend of violence at the beginning of the month, during which Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad fired nearly 700 rockets at Israel.

“Had it not been for Iran, the resistance in Palestine would not have possessed its current capabilities,” Sinwar said.

The Hamas leader then went on to warn that if Israel “resumes its aggression,” his group would strike Tel Aviv and other cities with twice as many rockets.

Israel has long charged Iran with trying to arm Palestinian terror groups in Gaza and maintains a blockade of the Strip to try and stop the import of sophisticated weapons systems.

People inspect the damage at a house in the southern Israeli city of Beersheba on May 5, 2019, after it was hit in a rocket strike from Gaza. (Ahmad GHARABLI / AFP)

Iran has also supplied tens of thousands of rockets to the Hezbollah terror group in Lebanon.

Sinwar also blasted the Trump administration’s not-yet released Mideast peace plan, saying Washington’s proposal is bound to fail. “The conflict will not be over until the occupation is removed from all of our land.”

He criticized Bahrain for hosting the rollout of the economic stage of Washington’s plan in June and called on citizens of the kingdom to protest against their government.

Supporters of the Hamas attend a rally marking the terror group’s founding in Gaza City on December 14, 2015. (Emad Nassar/Flash90)

Incendiary balloons from Gaza continue

Separately, the Israel Fire and Rescue Services reported that an incendiary balloon launched from Gaza sparked a fire in an open field near the border with the coastal enclave.

This was the 45th such fire in May, which has seen ceasefire of rockets since May 6, but a near daily onslaught of incendiary objects flown from the Strip toward Israel, burning dozens of acres of land.

Israel announced Saturday night that, as of Sunday, the fishing zone off the coast of the Gaza Strip will be expanded to 15 nautical miles (27.8 kilometers), four days after it was reduced to 10 nautical miles (18.5 kilometers) amid a rash of incendiary balloon attacks from the coastal Palestinian territory.

Since last March, incendiary balloons have caused fires that destroyed thousands of acres of farmland and nature reserves in southern Israel, in particular in the areas bordering Gaza.

Recent weeks have seen tensions in the Strip soar, following a massive two-day escalation of violence earlier this month between Israel and terror groups in the Palestinian enclave.

Firefighters work to extinguish a blaze in the Eshkol region of southern Israel that was sparked by a balloon-borne incendiary device from the Gaza Strip on May 22, 2019. (Eli Cohen/Fire and Rescue Services)

According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, the agreement that ended that flare-up included a Hamas obligation to halt violent incidents along the border fence, maintaining a buffer zone 300 meters from the border, an end to the launching of incendiary balloons at Israeli communities and nighttime clashes between Gazans and Israeli security forces, and a stop to flotillas trying to break through the maritime border between Gaza and Israel.

In return, Israel reportedly agreed to expand the fishing zone, enable the United Nations cash-for-work programs, allow medicine and other civil aid to enter the Strip, and open negotiations on matters relating to electricity, crossings, healthcare and funds.

Since March 30, 2018, Palestinians in Gaza have participated in regular protests along the border, demanding Israel lift its restrictions on the movement of people and goods into and out of the coastal enclave and calling for the return of Palestinian refugees and their descendants to lands that are now part of the Jewish state.

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