Senior Hamas official Mahmoud al-Zahar criticized Israel on Saturday for allegedly delaying the entry of construction materials into Gaza and warned that if the rehabilitation process in the Palestinian enclave does not speed up and become more efficient, the situation in the Strip may “erupt.”
According to al-Zahar, a hardliner and former foreign minister in the government of Ismail Haniyeh, construction materials were only brought into Gaza on one occasion, during UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon’s visit to the area earlier this month, Israel Radio reported. Al-Zahar also claimed that even the materials which had entered the Strip had not yet been distributed to building sites across the coastal enclave.
The Hamas official accused Israel of deliberately obstructing the Gaza’s rehabilitation process, and urged Palestinians in East Jerusalem to rise up against the Israeli government and continue “resisting,” according to Israel Radio.
Clashes in the capital persisted for a third consecutive day Saturday, amid heightened tensions since the Wednesday terror attack at a Jerusalem light rail station that claimed the lives of 3-month-old Chaya Zissel Braun and injured eight others.
Hamas also called to avenge the killing of 14-year-old Orwa Abd El-Wahab Hammad, who was shot by IDF troops on Friday after he attempted to hurl a Molotov cocktail at traffic on Highway 60, in the West Bank.
Tensions have been high since June, when three Israeli teenagers were kidnapped and killed by Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank. Alleged Jewish terrorists retaliated by kidnapping and killing a Palestinian teenager in east Jerusalem, sparking riots. The kidnappings set off a series of events that led to the 50-day Gaza war.
Since the conclusion of the IDF operation in the Strip aimed at rooting out Hamas terror tunnels and halting rocket fire at Israeli territory, Israel has delivered about 400 tons of cement in a single shipment to Gaza . According to sources in the Strip, the operation left some 100,000 homes either destroyed or badly damaged.
UN officials have said the holdup in the transfer of materials to the Strip was mostly technical, adding that more deliveries would come through once the Palestinian government has vetted Gaza importers of construction material and potential buyers.
AP contributed to this report.