Hamas on Sunday lashed out at the chief of the Shin Bet internal security service, after Ronen Bar issued a warning to the head of the terror group in Gaza.
The exchange of verbal fire came after the Shin Bet, Israel’s domestic security service, arrested several Hamas members in separate West Bank raids in recent weeks, accusing them of carrying out or planning terror attacks.
“The threats by the head of the Shin Bet against leader Yahya Sinwar are not new,” said Hamas spokesperson Fauzi Barhum.
“They don’t scare our Palestinian nation or the resistance leadership,” Barhum said. “They reflect the political, security and military impasse in which the occupation leaders suffer.”
The Shin Bet has reportedly identified an uptick in Hamas operatives directing attacks in the West Bank.
According to Israel’s Channel 12 news, Bar responded to those attacks by lashing out at Sinwar in internal communications. “Yahya Sinwar needs to decide between rehabilitating Gaza or the path of resistance. We won’t allow both at the same time,” he reportedly said.
Israel and Hamas, which rules Gaza, have seemingly sought to cool tensions surrounding the Strip over the past year, seeking a sort of detente amid indirect negotiations over the return of Israeli captives and soldiers’ remains in exchange for easing the blockade on the Palestinian enclave.
The terror group avoided involvement in a flare-up of violence last month between Israel and Islamic Jihad, in a sign that it preferred not to blow up attempts to rehabilitate the poverty-stricken Strip.
However, Israel says the group is still involved in rising tensions and violence in the West Bank, initially set off by a series of deadly attacks against Israel that killed 19 people between mid-March and the beginning of May.
On Friday, the Shin Bet said Israeli security forces had arrested an alleged Hamas terror cell responsible for a shooting attack on Israeli cars.
Palestinian gunmen in recent months have targeted numerous military posts, troops operating along the West Bank security barrier, Israeli settlements, and civilians on the roads.
In recent months, Israeli troops have also repeatedly come under gunfire during nightly raids in Palestinian cities in the West Bank.
Earlier this month, Israeli security forces broke up an alleged Hamas terrorist cell planning to carry out attacks in the West Bank, arresting seven of its members. The cell had been directed by a Hamas terrorist living in the Gaza Strip, the Shin Bet said.
Prime Minister Yair Lapid said earlier this month that the Shin Bet had thwarted hundreds of terror attacks this year.
Israeli security officials have warned in recent months that the Palestinian Authority, controlled by Hamas rival Fatah, is losing control of the northern West Bank.