Hamas leader vows to shower Israel with missiles if IDF invades Gaza

Yahya Sinwar says terror group will defeat Israeli military, praises Palestinian man who opened fire on Israeli troops earlier after sneaking across fence

Adam Rasgon is a former Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Members of the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)
Members of the Izz-a-din al-Qassam Brigades, the military wing of the Islamist terror group Hamas, take part in a march in Gaza City, July 25, 2019. (Hassan Jedi/Flash90)

Hamas leader Yahya Sinwar vowed on Tuesday that the terror group would prevail over the IDF should Israel send troops into the coastal enclave in any future conflict.

“We will defeat the occupation army, if it crosses into Gaza, if God, the ruler of the universe, wills,” Sinwar said in a short speech delivered to Palestinian families in his hometown Khan Younis in southern Gaza.

“We will beat that defeated army,” he vowed, adding that if there is another conflict with Israel, “we will shower their cities with hundreds of missiles in a single barrage.”

Sinwar, second only to Hamas politburo head Ismail Haniyeh in the terror group’s hierarchy, is known to use bellicose rhetoric when referring to the possibility of conflict with Israel.

Hamas Chief in the Gaza Strip Yahya Sinwar addressing Palestinian families in Khan Younis on August 13, 2019. (Screenshot: Shehab News Agency)

In the past 12 years, Hamas and other terror groups in Gaza have fought three major conflicts with Israel.

But following recent short-lived flareups with Israel, Hamas has agreed to a number of informal ceasefires with the Jewish state and its officials have stated that they prefer to avoid another full-fledged war with it.

He also heaped praise on Hani Abu Salah, a Palestinian man who the IDF said crossed the border fence between Gaza and Israel in early August and opened fire on soldiers, wounding three of them, calling the attack “a sacrificial and heroic operation.”

Troops killed Abu Salah.

At the time of the attack on August 1, Palestinians identified Abu Salah as a member of the Izz ad-Din al-Qassam Brigades, Hamas’s military wing.

Palestinian boys carry shells next to Hamas military post that was shelled by an Israeli tank in the town of Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip on August 1, 2019. (Said Khatib/AFP)

Following the attack, Hamas did not publicize an official statement about Abu Salah, a practice that it usually undertakes in such scenarios, and the group appeared to distance itself from the attack.

On Saturday, a senior Israeli minister indicated that Israel was not planning on launching a major military operation against Gaza in direct reaction to a foiled large-scale terror attack from the Strip earlier in the day, but would hit the enclave hard at some point.

Yoav Gallant, a former general and member of the high-level security cabinet, predicted the military would eventually launch a major offensive against the Hamas and other terror groups in the Strip, but its timing would be determined by Israel and not as a reprisal for an attack.

“Hamas will not determine the schedule. We will defend ourselves,” Gallant told Channel 12. “There will be another wide-scale operation in Gaza, but we will set the timing and conditions.”

The Israel Defense Forces said Saturday morning it had thwarted a “large-scale terror attack” after troops killed four Palestinians who attempted to infiltrate into Israel from the Gaza Strip, armed with AK-47 rifles, rocket-propelled grenades, hand grenades, hunting knives and bolt cutters.

The Associated Press contributed to this article.

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